12 nouns that are always plurals
If you, like me, are a half-ashamed watcher of various fashion reality shows, you might be familiar with phrases like I’d like to pair this with a navy pant or Maybe a smoky eye and a red lip. There is an assumption of an implied plural when the singular versions of these words are used in this way; relatively few people would be brave enough to use lipstick on only one lip. Outside of the fashion industry, though, you’d be more likely to refer to eyes, lips, and pants (or trousers in British English). There is a distinction that, with body parts, we have no problem thinking about a single eye or a single lip, but what of a single pant or trouser? Why do these words almost invariably come as a plural?
Well, without knowing it, you’ve been using a plurale tantum, Latin for ‘plural only’ and used for ‘a noun which is used only in plural form, or which is used only in plural form in a particular sense or senses.’ These nouns are always treated grammatically as plurals: you would say my trousers are red rather than my trousers is red.