Using 'the 39s' instead of 'the 39's size trousers'


This is a fragment from an audio course (I am copying the text literally from printed pages coming with the recordings):

(buying trousers)

Assistant : I’ve got black in size 38, but not in 39. I’ve brought brown in size 39 for you to try.
Customer: Thanks. I’ll try the 38 first.
Assistant: Oh, they look really nice on you. How do they feel?
Customer: I really like them but they feel a bit tight actually. I think I’ll try the 39[color=blue]s, though I don’t like brown.

  1. Why they feel / it feels , just a tradition? Feeling is entirely customer’s ability and ‘I feel (them / it) …’ would be more logical…

  2. As I can see (hear), informally the 38 is probably used instead of ‘the 38 size’ or instead of the 38’s size trousers, the trousers [of? in?] 38 size.
    But in the second case it’s plural - the 39s :shock: !
    Is there a typo error? Should be 39’s? Both are OK? What is an (informal?) rule for that?


Hi Tamara

Your questions are always interesting and you’re very observant!

“Feel” is used in the sense of “Do the size 38 trousers feel comfortable to you?”. In other words, if the trousers are too tight or too loose anywhere, that will cause an uncomfortable sensation or feeling for the person wearing them.

Here it is probably simply a question of what the speaker is thinking. “The 38” simply means “the size 38”. (The speaker is focused on only the size.)

When the speaker says “the 39s”, the focus has changed to trousers => “the size 39 trousers

And, as with trousers, if the speaker says “the 39s”, the verb will also be plural. :wink:

I myself would probably say “the 39s” much more often than “the 39”. :smiley:


Hi Amy

Ah! Both are OK. Great!
Thanks a lot, Amy, you’ve reduced the (permanently high :slight_smile: ) risk for me to enrage sale assistants :slight_smile:

So… the trousers make me feeling [un]comfortable. OK.

But what could be an acceptable phrase with ‘I feel’ – directly?
I feel they are slightly tight for me?

The trousers are uncomfortable” has basically exactly the same meaning as “The trousers feel uncomfortable.

If you say “I feel the trousers are too tight for me”, then you are voicing an opinion (“I think”) rather than saying saying what the physical sensation is. It’s possible that you think the trousers are too tight only because the current fashion is to wear very baggy trousers. It would be like saying “I feel that book is too easy for her.” (My opinion is that the book is to easy for her. In my opinion she should read something more difficult.)

If a sales person asks
How do the trousers feel?
a typical answer would be
They are too tight.
But you could also say something like
They feel a little tight around my waist.
They feel just right.

Hope that helps.


Now I’ve got it!
I mean: ‘I feel = I think’ in the context and ‘they are tight = physically uncomfortable for me’.

And, as I understood, the question ‘How do they feel?’ is generally concerned to both - the opinion (on how they look) and the sensation (how comfortable you feel being in them). But more likely - to the latter.