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RE[3]: Pants treated as plural
by WereCatf on Thu 8th May 2008 11:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Pants treated as plural"
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15

No. Not at all. My post was not intended as a complaint or nitpick, but to convey information which I thought might be interesting and helpful to a nonnative English speaker interested in languages.

Atleast I do appreciate all these insights and I find them very interesting. I have always been interested in learning languages and I just have some natural talent for it. Actually, everyone in my family has been fast at picking up new languages. Anyways, I do say "pants are" but I too have noticed some US-originated citizens tend to say it as "pants is".

Reply Parent Score: 3

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

I suppose it has something to do with pants having two "pant legs". Then a again, a shirt has two arms, and a brassiere usually[1] has two cups. But still, as a whole, it does not really make sense to to me to treat "pants" as plural... unless you cut them in half with scissors. But then you have another problem, because "scissors" is also treated as plural.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minor_characters_from_The_Hitchhiker~*...

Edited 2008-05-08 11:50 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

No. Not at all. My post was not intended as a complaint or nitpick, but to convey information which I thought might be interesting and helpful to a nonnative English speaker interested in languages.


I really appreciate that. I am always happy when someone corrects my "four-year old boy" English ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

No. Not at all. My post was not intended as a complaint or nitpick, but to convey information which I thought might be interesting and helpful to a nonnative English speaker interested in languages.

Atleast I do appreciate all these insights and I find them very interesting. I have always been interested in learning languages and I just have some natural talent for it. Actually, everyone in my family has been fast at picking up new languages. Anyways, I do say "pants are" but I too have noticed some US-originated citizens tend to say it as "pants is".


I guess it falls under the same sort of reason why those of the 'commonwealth' (NZ, Aussie, UK and possibly Canada) tend to refer to a organisation and use are, "Microsoft are a large organisation" - are being used in terms of plurality, meaning, the plurality of the components which make it up. In the case of pants - "your pants are on fire", and when referring to pants its quite normal to say, "I own a pair of black pants".

Then again, it is like the use of an before a word beginning with a vowel "an apple" whilst at the same time using an even though the word doesn't start with a vowel but sounds strange if 'a' is used. When is is used instead of are, in respects to pants, it just doesn't sound right and the sentence doesn't flow - it sounds disjointed.

Edited 2008-05-08 15:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

AndyM103 Member since:
2008-03-18

It comes from the French aswell [as in the plurality of "pants"], les pantalons but I'm afraid my German is somewhat lacking.

Another interesting one is data which can, of course, be singular and plural (especially when used in physics).

Edited 2008-05-08 17:31 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I guess it falls under the same sort of reason why those of the 'commonwealth' (NZ, Aussie, UK and possibly Canada) tend to refer to a organisation and use are, "Microsoft are a large organisation" - are being used in terms of plurality, meaning, the plurality of the components which make it up.


It differs per language. You can either determine plurality by looking at the meaning of the word in question, or by looking at the grammatical structure of the word. For instance, it's "a number of people ARE" in English, even though the subject ("a number of people") is grammatically singular. In Dutch, you get "een aantal mensen IS" (is = is), exactly because the subject is grammatically singular.

Another fun case is the notation of percentages. In English, you say "50% of people are", while in Dutch, you say "50% van de mensen is", simply because a percentage might be plural in meaning, it's still singular grammatically. This is actually something even native Dutch speaker struggle with.

Reply Parent Score: 1

mallard Member since:
2006-01-06


I guess it falls under the same sort of reason why those of the 'commonwealth' (NZ, Aussie, UK and possibly Canada) tend to refer to a organisation and use are, "Microsoft are a large organisation" - are being used in terms of plurality, meaning, the plurality of the components which make it up.


Actually, here in the UK, it is much more normal to say "Microsoft IS a large organisation", (although the "are" form is not unheard of) however, if we talk about the activities of said organisation, we might say "Microsoft ARE working on X, Y and Z". In addition these would be "their" activities.

Basically, when speaking about a collective in an abstract way, referring the the collective itself, it can be referred to as singular, since we are talking about one collective, however, when using the name of the collective as shorthand for it's members, plural is used, so "Microsoft is a large organisation", but "Microsoft are developing Windows 7".

IMHO, I am not a language expert.

Reply Parent Score: 2