View Full Version : The Problem of Foots and Trouser.

04-15-2010, 04:12 PM
I find the English language utterly ridiculous sometimes.
Today I was thinking about why trousers and knickers etc. are referred to in the plural.
If you go to the shop to buy a pair of shirts you will get two items, if you buy a pair if knickers you will come back with one.
Knickers are quite clearly one garment but are not referred to as such. Iím not going to put on my jumpers, I will just be putting on my one jumper so why can I not just put on a knicker?
Socks are understandably a pair because they can be separated, but you canít wear half a pair of trousers so why are they a pair and why not just a trouser?

It is similar with washing your hair, you are not going to just wash one hair because that would be foolish, you are going to wash your hairs.

The thing with feet is that you have eyes, ears, legs, hips, hands, arms, knees so should it not be foots?

If anyone could help me in my confusion I would be most grateful.

04-15-2010, 05:16 PM
English is a messed-up language. Learn to love it. :)

I mean, it could be Polish. When we use the word wash in English, we could be washing any number of things - dishes, hands, hair, clothes, cars, anything. In Polish, there is a different wash-word for washing hands than there is for washing dishes. I don't know enough Polish to know what these specific words are, I just know that it drives my grandfather crazy.

04-15-2010, 06:06 PM
lol now you mention it, it is quite funny.

I guess a pair of trousers could come from it being for 2 legs, even though they don't seperate.

Maybe like a pair of scissors in a way, it's two parts, but they are always together as one.

04-16-2010, 06:17 AM
Ah, English! ;)

Yeah, it can be ridiculous and tough to learn at times, so you're not alone with the confusion. For example, I'll never understand how "don't let's do something" is grammatically correct... But I second what ShelfLife wrote, learn to love it. I'm obsessed with it!

But Polish takes the cake. That's one silly language and it also sounds strange (it's often described as noisy since you hear a lot of these "sh" and "ch" in words). Probably the most frustrating part about it is orthography, because a few sounds share the same letters (like "u" and "ů") and they are very often messed up, even by adults. But it's no wonder! I love it either way.