Are all forms of "a pair of" below correct? Do all forms below have the same meaning?

  1. My new modern pair of shoes.
  2. A pair of my new modern shoes.
  3. My pair of new modern shoes.
  4. A new modern pair of shoes.
  • Can you explain why you think that moving where "pair of" appears changes the meaning? – Catija Feb 23 '17 at 18:02
  • I do not think it. Just I am not sure. – Ľubomír Masarovič Feb 23 '17 at 18:04
  • 3
    Obviously #4 is "different" because it says nothing about who owns the shoes. But #2 is also different, because unlike #1 and #3, it strongly implies that the speaker has other pairs of "new modern shoes". Idiomatically most native speakers would probably be more likely to go for my new pair of modern shoes. That would imply the shoes are "new" to me (I got them recently), and are in a "modern" style. If you use the two adjectives consecutively it's hard to see why you'd need both of them, since by default they both mean pretty much the same thing (new = modern = fashionable). – FumbleFingers Feb 23 '17 at 18:11
  • I wonder if it should be "my newly bought pair of shoes";) – Victor B. Feb 23 '17 at 18:13
  • 1
    But you can "newly buy" a pair of vintage shoes as well, so "modern" is not necessarily unnecessary. ;) – Davo Feb 23 '17 at 19:45

All of your example sentences have the same meaning because there is no other word in the sentence that "a pair of" might modify other than "shoes". It's possible to have a sentence where it's not clear which noun "a pair of" modifies, for example:

A pair of fish bowls

In this case "a pair of" could refer to the fish, or the bowls. Do I mean two bowls or two fish in each bowl? Of course the more obvious choice is that there are a pair of bowls, but you get the idea.

Otherwise a good guide is the order of adjectives:

  • Quantity or number.
  • Quality or opinion.
  • Size.
  • Age.
  • Shape.
  • Color.
  • Proper adjective (often nationality, other place of origin, or material)
  • Purpose or qualifier.

So, in this case, "a pair of" (number) "modern" (Age/quality) "shoes".


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