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    #1

    One in three new cars

    According to Micheal Swan's book, After expressions like one in three, one out of five + plural noun, both singular and plural verbs are possible.

    Ex: One in three new cars break/breaks down in the first years.

    I've asked this question from some native English teachers from USA or Australia. They strongly claim that this sentence doesn't work in Modern English. However, I don't agree with them because Swan's books are very up-to-date ones. Would you please share your opinions with me? I really want to know is there any possibility to use ONE IN THREE with a plural verb in formal writing or not.

    Thanks

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: One in three new cars

    This is my take on it:

    If you only have three cars, then "one of those three cars breaks down" (that is still one in three) so "one in three breaks down".
    If you have thirty cars, and ten of them break down then "one in three break down" (if you add up all the "ones", you get "ten" which takes the plural.)

    The problem many people have with "one in three cars breaks down" is that they don't like "breaks" following "cars". The gut feeling is that "cars" should be followed by the third person plural, not the third person singular.

    The upshot is that I agree with Swan - both are acceptable.

    Note that the correct spelling of his first name is "Michael". It is one of the most commonly misspelt names in English.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: One in three new cars

    Quote Originally Posted by Freeguy View Post
    According to Micheal Swan's book, After expressions like one in three, one out of five + plural noun, both singular and plural verbs are possible.

    Ex: One in three new cars break/breaks down in the first years.

    I've asked this question from some native English teachers from USA or Australia. They strongly claim that this sentence doesn't work in Modern English. However, I don't agree with them because Swan's books are very up-to-date ones. Would you please share your opinions with me? I really want to know is there any possibility to use ONE IN THREE with a plural verb in formal writing or not.

    Thanks
    You will undoubtedly see both singular and plural verbs used in the construction that Michael Swan was discussing. I doubt that we will ever have complete agreement on this issue. I would use a singular verb because of the word "one".

    Here is a page from someone who agrees with that point of view: The Grammarphobia Blog: Patently singular

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: One in three new cars

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post

    Note that the correct spelling of his first name is "Michael". It is one of the most commonly misspelt names in English.
    Sad, but true -- for me!

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: One in three new cars

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    Sad, but true -- for me!
    You have my sympathy, Myke.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: One in three new cars

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    You have my sympathy, Myke.

  6. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: One in three new cars

    The Gaelic version is Micheál, which is pronounced "meehaul".

  7. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: One in three new cars

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    The Gaelic version is Micheál, which is pronounced "meehaul".
    That sounds like a cat in heat.

  8. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: One in three new cars

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    That sounds like a cat in heat.
    I dare say that there are many non-English names that sound strange or comical in English.

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