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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 native English speakers 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?

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  • @AsteroidsWithWings yes, of course it's a good question. But the top-ticked answer for example is confusing. The only thing it should say in an answer is "It is a mistake." (Certainly everything written in that answer is correct and well-explained. But if a non-native speaker asks "I saw color spelled covor in The Times?" the only thing to tell them in answer is "It's a typo". Maybe one could also then include a dissertation on the history of spelling or such! But for clarity the basic, bold, clear answer needed is "oh, that's wrong".)
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 12:56
  • @Fattie Feel free to write a new answer that just says "It is a mistake", though I remain unconvinced that it'll be seen as being very competitive. Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 14:27
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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
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 16:29
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    It was great news. and. "It's a means to an end" are not the same thing at all.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 17:24
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    Never seen it used. Also there was a comment you might have seen that'd only existed for a few hours before being deleted: "What's NSE? Native speaker of English?" That comment, despite its short life span, garnered 7 likes. That says a lot about the unpopularity of that abbreviation. On top of all that, abbreviations are not encouraged across the SE network, especially in the posts. Especially ELL as you yourself have said learners of English are not familiar with lots of terms. Posts are not SMS texts and should avoid abbreviations and jargon.
    – Eddie Kal
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 8:06

2 Answers 2

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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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    "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. Commented Sep 21, 2020 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. Commented Sep 22, 2020 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". Commented Sep 22, 2020 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. Commented Sep 22, 2020 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). Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 14:35
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"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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    @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. Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 21:41
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    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? Commented Sep 20, 2020 at 23:08
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    People sometimes make mistakes in their spoken grammar. Even really bad ones.
    – David K
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 2:22
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    A glance at the cast list shows that not all characters are meant to speak text-book US Standard English. Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 11:37
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    @LaurentS. - what you 'see' is a spelling error. This does not mean they say 'then' when they mean 'than'. Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 12:27

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