My friend posted a selfie on Facebook exemplifying the difficulties of short people shopping for pants. We’re both short—like “have to jump to see what’s on the top shelf at the grocery store” short. I started to comment on her post about my favorite pair of ankle-length jeans (which was definitely floor-length on me) when I paused midsentence with a brain cramp: should I use “were” or “was” with “pair” when talking about my go-to jeans from high school?
I won’t leave you in suspense: the answer was to treat “pair” as a singular noun. But why?
A quick lookup in a dictionary clarifies that the word “pair” is both singular and plural.
So how did I decide whether to make “pair” singular or plural? I looked at the meaning I was trying to convey. I...