Is a "pair" of something a singular (collective) noun or plural
When referring to a "pair" of something, do you treat it as a single collective noun with verb to match, or treat it as a plural. E.g. "We won't be buying this pair of shoes as they are too tight" or "We won't be buying this pair of shoes as it is too tight". "This pair is just right" or "This pair are just right". Plural sounds better in the first example but single sounds better in the second.
Your interpretation of both the examples is correct. The first is clearly plural and the second is singular. It can be both, and my understanding is that it has to do with what you are emphasising.
It is important to note that grammatically, 'a pair' is singular. In situations when 'a pair' sounds like it should take a plural verb, it's unlikely that you need the word 'pair' at all. I think inserting pair in a sentence where a plural verb is necessary is a colloquial development that functions well in speaking, but lacks the clarity necessary to make it good for writing.
See your example below:
We won't be buying these shoes as they are too tight.
|link comment||answered Aug 01 '11 at 18:23 Kimberly Expert|
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