Saturday, April 30, 2011

Grammar Bit

"Pair" is a singular noun. Its verb is inflected with an "s." In this hed, that would be: .... pair exchanges vows.

The kids on the copy desk were probably thinking "couple," which can be cast variously as either singular or plural, depending on whether the editor is a prescriptivist or descriptivist. But whatever they were thinking, Charlotte Sun copy editors page designers wrote "pair." Too bad there wasn't a pair of eyes proofreading the headline on the day's big story.


  1. AP Style says:
    When used in the sense of two people, the word takes plural verbs and pronouns. [giving the example]'The couple were married Saturday ...'
    in the sense of a single unit, use a singular verb: 'Each couple was asked to give $10.'

    Under AP Style, the headline cited above was, in fact, correct.

  2. Yes, but the word in the headline isn't "couple." My comment agrees with your discussion of the word "couple," which I agree can go either way -- and acknowledge in the post. But "pair" is the word in the headline and "pair" is singular until the sentence mentions two pairs -- which the headline doesn't.