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    #1

    Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    19. Roman law is one of the greatest systems ______ ever existed.
    (A) which is (B) which are (C) that has (D) that have
    (Joint College Entrance Examination in Taiwan, 1979)

    The answer to the above question is option C.
    Is option D acceptable to native speakers?

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    #2

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    No. The relevant word is one, which needs a singular verb agreement.

    It seems you're thinking that the relevant word is the plural word systems.

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    #3

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    No. The relevant word is one, which needs a singular verb agreement..
    I don't agree.

    What is it one of? It is one of a group.
    What is the group? The greatest systems that have ever existed.

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    #4

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I don't agree.

    What is it one of? It is one of a group.
    What is the group? The greatest systems that have ever existed.
    I think your view makes sense, but when I run both options through my mind, I keep getting answer (C), with the antecedent of that as one. The focus of the sentence is on Roman law, not on the whole group of systems.

    Do you think that the antecedent is systems, then? Would you choose answer (D)?

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    #5

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    Both C and D are acceptable to me. On any one day I might use either – for no particular reason. Both viewpoints have validity, in my opinion.

    I certainly hope no-one failed the entrance exam for choosing D in 1979. (Have you no more recent examples of past papers to work from, sitifan?)

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    #6

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    I think your view makes sense, but when I run both options through my mind, I keep getting answer (C), with the antecedent of that as one. The focus of the sentence is on Roman law, not on the whole group of systems.
    It seems to me that we have these two possibilities:

    1. Roman law is one (system) (of the greatest systems) that has ever existed.
    2. Roman law is one of (the greatest systems that have ever existed).

    The second appears more logical to me.

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    #7

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    I'd go for C), but I question how good this question is as the answer is not so clear-cut.

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    #8

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    I think the answer is fairly clear-cut, but then I would, wouldn't I?

    However, I don't think it's a good question. I have heard/seen as many native speakers give what I consider to be the incorrect answer as I have give what I consider to be the correct one. I am fairly sure that I am consistent in my writing, but I doubt if I am in speech. It's like the It's I/It's me question. I see no point at all in penalising learners for saying or writing what many educated speakers say and write.
    Last edited by Piscean; 08-Aug-2019 at 20:42.

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    #9

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    Or, (E) that.

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    #10

    Re: Roman law is one of the greatest systems that has/have ever existed.

    I honestly don't know which of "have" or "has" is correct here: good reasons can be found for either choice. These situations are quite common. Faced with them, one should always rephrase -- not an option for a multiple-choice question, but always an option otherwise.

    Roman law is one of the greatest legal systems to have existed.
    Roman law is one of the greatest legal systems mankind has devised.
    Roman law is among the greatest of humanity's legal systems.

    There are any number of ways to say the same thing. I should definitely specify "legal system", however.
    Last edited by abaka; 08-Aug-2019 at 20:54.
    Retired proofreader. ESL tutor. Not a teacher. Nor a typist, evidently.

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