6

I've been taught that glasses (as in spectacles i.e. visual aid) are plural. It's also confirmed by numerous hits on the google (reference 1, reference 2, reference 3). In case the multiplicity of the equipment needs to be explicitly emphasized, one can say five pairs of glasses or simply reformulate in an appropriate way.

However, in the movie Come As You Are (about 45'15" in), the following dialogue takes place.

A: I lost my glasses.
B: It's right here. It's right here.
A: I lost my fucking glasses!
B: It's around your neck.

All the characters are NSEs and there's no reason to make a grammatical error in the plot. The movie is subtitled so it can't be my hearing impediment. I even checked with two alternative sources for subs, all with consistent result.

Naturally, I expected they're right here and they're around your neck. What's up with that?

  • 2
    glasses are plural and a plural pronoun must be used to substitute for them in all cases. It sounds really, really bad to say my glasses, it. – Lambie Sep 20 at 14:35
  • @Lambie Cool, great. So I got my confirmation that it's not only me finding that a weirdly unexpected deviation from the proper grammar. Thanks. – Konrad Viltersten Sep 20 at 21:25
  • 1
    It's simply wrong, not a big deal. Movies, news shows, newspapers often have totally incorrect English. It's not surprising or unusual. – Fattie Sep 21 at 10:35
  • 1
    @Fattie I've never, ever, heard this mistake being made, and certainly not in media, and it's completely fair to ask whether it's in fact an acceptable usage when you're not sure. – Asteroids With Wings Sep 21 at 12:34
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    Konrad, my friend, it's gibberish. There are likely non-standard speech phenomena from native speakers all the time but this one (it for them) is simply extremely unlikely. "Where are my shorts, Mom? Did you put it in the dryer**? [buzzer] Who would even say that?? – Lambie Sep 21 at 16:29
-4

This is a typical mistake, or piece of jibberish.

Such mistakes are completely ubiquitous in both published spoken and published written English, in this era.

It's one example of a billion.

(There is absolutely no special significance, whatsoever, about the taxonomy, origin or mechanics of this particular fuck-up.)

It is kindly described as "a slip of the tongue" or more bluntly "illiterate, ignorant, uneducated screenwriting".

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  • 2
    "Ow, eez ye-ooa san, is e? Wal, fewd dan y' de-ooty bawmz a mather should, eed now bettern to spawl a pore gel's flahrzn than ran awy atbaht pyin. Will ye-oo py me f'them?" Clearly George Bernard Shaw was illiterate. – user3067860 Sep 21 at 17:26
  • I don't understand why so heavy downvote on this. In fact, I can't see a reason to have any downs at all. I'll +1 it to counter the push-down as it seems way to harsh for an answer that is well-formulated and actually answering the question. – Konrad Viltersten Sep 22 at 12:44
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    @KonradViltersten This answer is pretty rude to the screenwriter and doesn't allow for deliberately using poor grammar in dialog for character development or any other reason why there might be non-standard grammar besides the screenwriter being "illiterate, ignorant, uneducated". – user3067860 Sep 22 at 15:07
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    @user3067860 I believe that you're mistaken, possibly reading into the text more than there's actually said. If you, kindly please, re-read the text, there's nothing there referencing the screenwriter. Fattie complains about people making said mistake, among a lot others and suggests that the screenwriter might skillfully have caught that linguistic sloppiness of contemporary culture. At least that's how I see the last sentence. I also disagree with Fattie that it's such a common mistake, the one considered in this question of plural it's. – Konrad Viltersten Sep 22 at 22:52
  • @KonradViltersten "illiterate, ignorant, uneducated screenwriting"... I don't see how that's about anyone other than the screenwriter, and calling someone illiterate, ignorant, or uneducated is pretty rude. Especially when this answer doesn't offer any other potential reason (like poor grammar in dialog for characterization or even multiple changes during rewrites leading to unnoticed errors). – user3067860 Sep 23 at 14:35
15

"Glasses" are always plural, unless you specifically refer to them as "a pair of glasses" which acts as a collective noun.

For example:

  • Some glasses.
  • A pair of glasses.
  • This is my pair of glasses.
  • These are my glasses.

Of course, you can refer to multiple pairs in the plural.

I have to conclude that the dialogue you quoted is wrong. As the first person referred to them as "my glasses" not a pair of glasses, the second person should have followed and said, "they are round your neck".

If this were a real-life situation, I'd think that the second person just viewed the pair of glasses, along with the chain or whatever was holding the glasses around the person's neck, as a singular item. As a written piece of dialogue in a movie, I'm more inclined to think it was either a mistake, or more likely a deliberate use of bad English to imply a lack of language skill by the character.

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  • 8
    @KonradViltersten - this is movie dialogue representing energetic informal conversation between people who are not students of grammar. I can fully believe that this is how some people talk. – Michael Harvey Sep 20 at 21:41
  • 3
    I personally have never heard anyone talk this way (I'm British). I suppose it is possible. Is the character in the movie a native English speaker? – chasly - supports Monica Sep 20 at 23:08
  • 3
    People sometimes make mistakes in their spoken grammar. Even really bad ones. – David K Sep 21 at 2:22
  • 1
    A glance at the cast list shows that not all characters are meant to speak text-book US Standard English. – Michael Harvey Sep 21 at 11:37
  • 2
    @LaurentS. - what you 'see' is a spelling error. This does not mean they say 'then' when they mean 'than'. – Michael Harvey Sep 21 at 12:27

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