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The Word “Scissors” is a Defective Noun


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • defective: doesn’t function normally; imperfect
  • agreement: when the subject corresponds with the correct version of the verb
  • panties: female underwear
  • boxers: male underwear that is shaped like shorts
  • wordsmith: a person who is interested in and skilled with words

The Word “Scissors” is a Defective Noun

In English, there are a few nouns that only have a form. The word “scissors” is one example. There is no form of this word and it requires plural agreement. For example: The are on the table. To make this tool singular, you have to use “a pair of scissors”. Other words that don’t have a singular form are “pants”, “shorts”, “glasses (eyeglasses)”, , “panties” and “boxers”. The Latin word for this concept is “plurale tantum”, which means plural only. Some wordsmiths the term “defective nouns”.

Comprehension Questions

  1. How can you refer to “scissors” in a singular way?
  2. Why does this report mention “goggles”?
  3. What does the expression “plurale tantum” translate to in English?

Discussion Questions: How does an irregular plural like “sheep” differ from a word like “scissors”?

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