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I you look at "scales", you see just a whole piece (see the above picture), it's not like a pair of scissors.

Probably, in the past, the scales has 2 pieces like these

enter image description here

But nowadays, in modern world, we don't use that "2 piece scales" any more.

Is it correct to say "use a pair of scales to weigh the products" or "use a scales to weigh the products"?

  • The first picture is “a scale”, singular. – StephenS Oct 11 '20 at 6:32
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    In Britain, it can be called either a kitchen scale, or some kitchen scales. – Michael Harvey Oct 11 '20 at 7:10

Traditionally, things like scales, glasses, trousers have been seen as coming in two's and therefore are always used in the plural form.

Nowadays, "scales" can be made from a single part. Actually, most often they are a single part, like in your first picture. But grammatically, we don't care about that. They are plural scales. Just checked the amazon website, and all their weighing equipment is sold as "scales". You wouldn't say "a pair of scales" for one-part scales, but they are scales.

So I would say that "Use a pair of scales" and "Use a scales" or "Use a scale" would all be wrong. "Use scales" would be right - unless the person has an actual pair of scales like your second picture.

(Things get funny if you have more than one scales. For example, I bought two each of the items on your two pictures, four items in total, and you ask me what I bought... I'd answer "two scales and two pairs of scales" but have no idea if that would be correct. Just avoid doing this :-)


The specifics have already been answered, but generally speaking, a scales sounds wrong immediately because you're matching a singular article with a plural noun. You either need to pair it with a determiner that takes a plural ("the scales", "some scales", "your scales") or use a singular group noun ("a pair of scales", "a truckload of scales").


As an English native speaker with an A grade in English Grammar O-level ...

I was taught to say 'Use some scales to measure the amount of flour needed' for example.

You could say 'Use a ruler to measure that distance' but 'scales' implies a plural although it's not one. 'a set of scales' is equally fine though. As in ..

'Use a set of scales to measure the sugar for the cake'.

'some' gets round the awkward plural sounding form. 'use a scale to measure the currants' is technically correct but the measuring device isn't called 'a scale', they are called 'scales'.

It's just one of those English curiosities.

  • Can you edit your post to explain why your answer is correct and provide a complete sentence? You can use reputable resources to support your answers (e.g. dictionaries). This appears to be correct in BrE, but not AmE, for example. See Contributor's Guide (Answering) for more tips. – Em. Oct 11 '20 at 8:53
  • How would one describe 'this is the way I was taught to say it' ? – Graham Stevenson Oct 11 '20 at 8:59
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    Just try your best to provide more context. What variety of English do you speak? What does the dictionary say about this? Also, a complete example sentence would be helpful too. "I am a native speaker and I am correct"-type answers aren't very instructive and aren't necessarily correct. See Submitting Answers that merely answer the question. – Em. Oct 11 '20 at 9:07

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