Posted by: helpforyourenglish | February 6, 2011

Who wears the pants in your house?

You might hear a native speaker say or ask this.

I wear the pants in my house.

Who wears the pants in your house?

Who wears the pants… (in your house?/ in your marriage?/ in your relationship?/ in your family?)

The question really means, Who is in charge? Who makes the decisions? Who is the leader? Who is the boss? Who is the most dominant person?

I wear the pants in my house. This means that I am the leader, the biggest decision maker or the most dominant person in my house or my family.

Real life examples:

http://www.officeproductnews.net/blogs/corey_smith/who_wears_pants_your_business

http://www.goomradio.us/radio/pop-top-20/2011/01/19/katy-perry-wears-the-pants

http://www.therundown.tv/headlines/say-what/jay-z-hints-that-beyonce-wears-the-pants-via-rolling-stone/

NB: The pants do not refer to underwear. They mean trousers (American style). You might also hear people use the word “trousers” used instead of pants. However, this is an idiom so don’t think too much about the literal meaning. Just remember what it really means. The expression is informal. It is not generally considered to be insulting or sexist.



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Responses

  1. Who wears the pants…my wife of course, she is the boss…speak honestly, one more time, thank you for your help in advance, actually, I love British English standard, however as I’m not a native-speaker sometimes I mix both standards, even speaking and writing.

  2. Hi Carlos. Thanks for your comment. As a British native speaker I usually use British English but I understand American English and most Australian English. Language learners should choose and use what is useful for them. If you can use American and British English to communicate, that’s great.

  3. Hi ‘Helpforyourenglish’,
    Can we change the tenses of an idiom phrase? E.g:
    *If my father dies, it’s I who will wear the pants of my family.
    *My uncle has worn the pants of the clan’s family for three years.
    Are the two sentences correct?

  4. Hi Bambang,
    Yes, you can change the tense and yes, your two examples are correct. 🙂


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