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  1. #31
    Phaedrus's Avatar
    Phaedrus is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Continuation of Closed Thread "Jill is one of the girls who is/are .

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Here is a trick that one source suggests: Turn the sentence around. Instead of "James is one of those people who is/are computer illiterate," mentally rearrange the sentence as: "Of those people who ____ computer illiterate, James is one." It seems pretty clear that "are" is required in order to match "people."


    William Safire, No Uncertain Terms (2003), pages 336-339.
    Thank you for that reference, TheParser. Bryan Garner uses the same trick in his usage guide. It is a very useful way of illustrating the need for the plural verb in cases where the plural verb is needed. Those are cases where the construction is used to identify someone or something as being one member of a set or people or things that all share a particular property, such as being missing, being computer illiterate, etc.

    Those cases may very well account for the vast majority of uses of "one of the [plural noun] + [relative clause]." If so, it is only right that writers on usage should caution people about the construction. However, assuming those of us who believe that in some cases the other parsing is also possible -- with a different meaning, not merely as an "overridden" blunder -- are right, a footnote is needed in such usage guides. Consider this real-life example:

    (1) I am one of the members at Using English who believes the parent thread should not have been closed.

    At the time of this posting, I am not aware of there being any other member here besides me who believes the parent thread should not have been closed. (I know that Piscean was surprised, because he said he was, but I can't infer from Piscean's surprise that he possesses that belief.) Therefore it would not be correct for me to assert that I am one of a number of members who share the property of believing that the parent thread should not have been closed.

    The "trick" applies to my example, too, but in a different way; the "of"-phrase does not include the relative clause, which modifies "one," not "members":

    (1') Of the members at Using English, I am one who believes the parent thread should not have been closed.

    The sentence is rather comparable to "I, for one, . . ." statements. I'd like to thank Rover for the happy coincidence of providing me with the perfect example.

  2. #32
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Continuation of Closed Thread "Jill is one of the girls who is/are .

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    FYI - I think that thread should not have been closed.
    Your wish is my command. I have merged them and re-opened.

  3. #33
    kohyoongliat is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Jill is one of the girls who is/are missing.

    I got it from one of my grammar books. I cannot remember which one.

    The answer provided is "are".

  4. #34
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Jill is one of the girls who is/are missing.

    There are grammar books and grammar books.

  5. #35
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Jill is one of the girls who is/are missing.

    Quote Originally Posted by kohyoongliat View Post
    I got it from one of my grammar books. I cannot remember which one.

    The answer provided is "are".
    Welcome back, kohyoongliat. If you look through your thread here, you will find a variety of perspectives. Your thread was closed and reopened -- twice.

    Because you hadn't replied to, "liked," or clicked "thank" on any of the postings, it was assumed that you had no interest in the thread you had started.

  6. #36
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Jill is one of the girls who is/are missing.

    Quote Originally Posted by kohyoongliat View Post
    Jill is one of the girls who is/are missing.



    NOT A TEACHER

    In your sentence, you may wish to use the plural verb. "Jill is one of what?" "The girls who are missing."

    The singular verb, however, would be appropriate in this sentence: "Jill is the only one of the girls who is missing."


    Source: House and Harman, Descriptive English Grammar (1931 and 1950), pages 352-353.

  7. #37
    Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Re: Jill is one of the girls who is/are missing.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    In your sentence, you may wish to use the plural verb. "Jill is one of what?" "The girls who are missing."

    The singular verb, however, would be appropriate in this sentence: "Jill is the only one of the girls who is missing."


    Source: House and Harman, Descriptive English Grammar (1931 and 1950), pages 352-353.
    Thank you for that wonderful reference. When checking my copy, I especially enjoyed seeing the Reed-Kellogg diagrams on those pages for "Smith is one of those men who like to see their names in the papers" and "I am the only one of the men who enjoys baseball."

    There is a grammatical term that has been lurking in the background of this discussion: "partitive construction." The partitive construction here is "one of [a set of things/people]." Whether the verb of the relative clause should be singular or plural depends, as I see it, on whether the relative clause is part of the partitive construction.

    If the relative clause is part of the partitive construction in this case, it will be definitive of the set of girls of which Jill is one. Because it is perfectly natural to interpret the sentence that way, and surely any grammar book including it as an exercise would intend the relative clause to be interpreted thus, the plural verb is a great choice.

    That said, let's suppose the singular is used in the relative clause. Further, let's suppose that the singular is not being used blunderingly by a native speaker who intends the relative clause to define the plurality of people of which Jill is one. It is possible for the relative clause not to be part of the partitive construction. To illustrate:

    A: Thank goodness none of the girls is missing!
    B: Unfortunately, Jill is. Jill is one of the girls who is missing. There may be others of them who are missing, too.

    As is clear in that context, Speaker B's second sentence is not equivalent in meaning to "Jill is one of the missing girls," for which meaning "are" would be required: "Jill is one of the girls who are missing." The partitive construction in B's second sentence is simply "one of the girls"; it is understood which girls "the girls" refers to.

    The relative clause in B's second sentence modifies "one," not "girls." Interestingly, we can imagine examples containing relative clauses in both functions. In the example below, the first relative clause modifies "girls" and is part of the partitive construction; the second relative clause modifies "one" and is not part of the partitive.

    Jill is one of the girls who are missing who is really beautiful.
    One of the girls who are missing who is really beautiful is Jill.

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