There are some words in the English language that are more trouble than they are worth, at least from a grammatical standpoint. Take the two words ‘sunglasses’ and ‘sunglass’. We are all familiar with sunglasses. But is there such thing as a sunglass? And if so, is it in any way related to a pair of sunglasses you would wear on your face?
The problem with these two words lies in the concept of plural versus singular. We make the word ‘glass’ plural by adding the ‘es’ on the end. Add one glass to another and you get two glasses. If a sunglass is a real thing, then putting two of them together would create sunglasses, right? Perhaps, but wait. There’s another problem.
We speak of the sunglasses we wear on our faces as a pair. In other words, you have a pair of individual sunglasses put together into a single unit. But that leads us back to the question of whether or not there is such thing as a single sunglass. See how confusing this is?
Yes, the Sunglass Is Real
The only way to settle some of the confusion is to go to the dictionary. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, there is such thing as a single sunglass. A sunglass is defined as “a convex lens for converting the sun’s rays.” Note that this does not mean a sunglass is something you would put on your face.
The word ‘converge’ means to “move toward one point or another” or “to come together and unite in common interest or focus”. The lenses in your sunglasses are not designed to do either thing. Sunglasses are designed to filter out light, not move it toward a single point of focus.
As such, the dictionary definition of ‘sunglass’ would seem to indicate a scientific instrument that focuses light on a specific point. Such types of glasses are fairly common in scientific studies. So yes, there is such thing as a single sunglass. But it is not something you wear on your face. That brings us back to the confusing idea of a pair of sunglasses as a single unit.
Singular or Plural
The fact that we refer to sunglasses in pairs causes quite a bit of consternation over the singular versus plural question. A pair is considered a single mathematical set, which is why we use the singular form of a particular verb when referring to a pair. We would say something like, “his new pair of sunglasses looks good.”
However, leave out the word ‘pair’ and we naturally tend toward the plural form. We would say, “his new sunglasses look good.” The word ‘pair’ is the deciding factor.
If all this is confusing to you, no worries. Some concepts in the English language are just difficult to understand. It doesn’t really matter in the end. What matters is that you have a decent pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes against UV rays. Thankfully, Salt Lake City’s Olympic Eyewear says almost all sunglasses these days have built-in UV protection.
That UV protection is that which will protect you from macular degeneration, cataracts, and cancer. Whether or not you understand how to apply grammar rules to ‘sunglasses’ and ‘sunglass’ is irrelevant. That’s good to know if grammar is not your thing.
To summarize, there is such a thing as a sunglass. If you are talking about something you put on your face to protect against the sun though, the word is always going to be ‘sunglasses’. Just accept it and move on. There is no need to let the two words drive you crazy.