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Actually, only "pairs" in correct. Two shoes (left and right) equal one pair of shoes. Four shoes (2 left and 2 right) equal two PAIRS of shoes. The Oxford's Learners Dictionary says this: In informal North American English some people use pair as a plural form: three pair of shoes. This is not considered correct in written English.
According to Google Ngram Viewer , Google Ngram Viewer and Google Ngram Viewer , "pair" as a plural was more popular than "pairs" in the late 18th century and has been losing popularity since then. I heard it all the time when I was a kid in rural Michigan in the 1970s, but I haven't heard it as much lately.
I'll discuss it with you. :)
There is good reason for the confusion. I was always taught to use "pair" after numbers, so I started out convinced Dúo was mistaken. There is so much debate on this by people I have come to respect, on both sides of this argument, that I decided to do some research. You are correct! And I'd argue they (we) are too because it hasn't always been this way. When it comes to language rules, an ever-changing reflection of the people who speak it, I don't think anyone can be fairly blamed for following what we were taught in school, no matter how "old fashioned" (or progressive) our teachers might have been. Many people, apparently yourself included, think the rules should stay put. But languages will continue to evolve, and we will always have these types of debates. It's not your fault or ours. It was just news to some of us - on both sides. But it's good to know.
Merriam Webster accepts the singular or plural of 'pair' for more than one pair. What throws it off is having a plural for the items (e.g. socks or shoes) and plural for the word pair. So 'two pairs of shoes' sounds off. Two pair of shoes sounds better. Shrimp is plural. No matter how many times Emeril Lagasse says "shrimps" I believe 'shrimp' sounds best when referring to several.
I love discovering the variety of ways we speak English, even in my own country. It's also interesting to actually get to watch language evolve over time. It can make me feel old and is occasionally uncomfortable though. I will never get used to "him and I" no matter how many famous people say it "wrong"!!
It's been a while since I've been in an English class, but judging by the comments, I'm guessing only "pairs" (for the plural) is taught in our schools now. This wasn't the case when I was a child, at least not where I grew up. It looks like quite a few people here can identify! There is a reason it sounds right to them (us), and I would be curious to know how much depends upon age or region. My mom (Boomer who taught English from the mid-sixties to the mid-eighties) uses both "pair" and "pairs" for the plural form, depending upon the context. I do too (gen-X here). But we certainly can't go wrong tacking on the "s". And if this is what is being taught today, then Dúo is probably right to follow suit. :)
Considering how many upvotes some "pair" supporters have received, it doesn't look like this usage is quite ready to disappear. To be fair though, I imagine most who came here did so because Dúo's answer seemed off (like myself), so comparing upvotes doesn't really tell us which is more popular by Dúo users, only that quite a few people still follow the older usage.
No, pairs sounds natural. That's how we make words plural in English. There are a few words that don't change (like deer or sheep), but pair is not one of them. Two pair sounds as wrong as two shoe or three sock.
I'm guessing it's regional and common somewhere, but it's not standard English.
Howard, I agree with you, BUT Duolingo and most younger people end their English sentences with a preposition, which wasn't the way I was taught 50 years ago. So, it seems that the English grammar is "whatever" and either accept it according to Oxford, or toss English grammar on the trash pile!