one of the few that is, or one of the few that are?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by cyanista, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. cyanista

    cyanista законодательница мод

    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    So was or were??? :confused:

    Examples I've just found:

    [SIZE=-1]Wood is an important natural resource, one of the few that are renewable.[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-1]The Lehigh Valley is the third-largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania, and one of the few that is growing.
    [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]But these days, Chenega is one of the few that still leads this kind of subsistence life.[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]
    Your package was one of the few that were missed in the fray of preparing our entries.[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]

    ..and so on and so forth!

    Seems like both variants are acceptable.
    [/SIZE]
     
  2. CAMullen Senior Member

    Amesbury
    US, English
    I'm not so sure about that, Bartonig. The proximity of "bands" to "centered" makes me think it's "bands" that is being modified by the clausal phrase. Besides, in Gene Krupa's day there were many more than "a few " big bands, but very few of them were indeed centered on their drummers.
     
  3. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    I agree with CAM. The point of the sentence is that a few big bands were centered on a drummer and that Krupa's was one of them.
     
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I agree with were.

    Some big bands were centred on the drummer.
    Gene Krupa had a band.
    What kind of band was it?
    It was one of the [set of] bands that were centred on the drummer.

    Looking at the examples found by cyanista, I would agree that both are used, but I would not consider both to be acceptable (to me):p .
     
  5. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    Spock would say that your conclusion is illogical, cyanista :D

    Both are used, but then both shotguns and debit cards are used when making withdrawals from banks! The internet should never be taken as a guide for to the acceptability of anything, particularly grammar...spelling...punctuation.
     
  6. CAMullen Senior Member

    Amesbury
    US, English
    True, maxiogee. I think a reference to "Wikipedia" is roughly equivalent to a reference to "some guy."
     
  7. cyanista

    cyanista законодательница мод

    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    That's why I tried to find convincing examples (which don't seem to have impressed anyone, though :(:)).

    [SIZE=-1]But these days, Chenega is one of the few that still leads this kind of subsistence life.

    [/SIZE] This one happened to be on the BBC site. (Source)

    Surely enough, it doesn't prove anything, but it does provide food for thought.

    I'll try to find out more about it.
     
  8. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There is definitely a tension between the singularity of one, and the plurality of few.
    I pondered, before I posted first, on the possibility that perhaps there are sentences in which "one of the few that (singular verb)" is OK. It rings true somehow, but not in this example.

    ___________________________

    As a very crude measure, CHECK THIS :eek:
     
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This question arose in a different thread (why is it so in this phrase) that has been resolved.

    I thought the answer was simple, but the Google search suggests a majority in favour of what I think is the wrong answer.

    Here is a link to Google's 28,400 hits for "one of the few that is"

    Here is a link to Google's 17,000 hits for "one of the few that are".

    This seems very strange to me. :)

    Comments?
     
  10. river Senior Member

    U.S. English
    "Gene Krupa had one of the few big bands that were centered on a drummer."
    The singular Gene Krupa is the subject of the sentece, but the subject of the clause is what matters, and that subject is the few big bands. "That were centered on a drummer" refers not only to Gene Krupa, but to the few big bands as well.

    "Your package was one of the few that were missed in the fray of preparing our entries." "Missed in the fray" applies to your package and the few.

    This is one of those things that are difficult to explain.[SIZE=-1]

    [/SIZE]
     
  11. Nick

    Nick Senior Member

    Western USA
    USA, English
    I disagree.

    Example: "Look, one of your papers has fallen onto the floor."
    You would never say "... one of your papers have fallen ...". The verb agrees with "one" even though the nearest noun is "papers". Only a single paper was affected so we need a singular verb.

    Example: "One of those things is difficult to explain", not "One ... are difficult ..."


    So why does the "that" require the verb to change?
     
  12. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English

    One of those things is difficult to explain.
    One clause, one subject, one verb.
    subject: one (of those things) is singular, thus verb is is also singular.


    It is one of those things that are difficult to explain.
    Break it up into its parts.
    It is one of those things.
    Which things?
    Those things that are difficult to explain.
     
  13. cyanista

    cyanista законодательница мод

    NRW
    Belarusian/Russian
    "Constructions such as one of those people who ..."

    Read more here.

    Comments eagerly awaited! :)
     
  14. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    In the original reference to bands I would go for singular verb because it is one band centred on a drummer.

    Interestingly confusing how one of plural causes so much complication. For me this reinforces the point that making our sentences shorter makes them clearer. The more complicated and beclaused sentences become, the easier is it to get into murky grammatical territory.

    Having said all of that, I have no idea whether beclaused exists. I must admit I can see it being a coinage I could become rather attached to.
     
  15. WTW New Member

    english
    The "correct" answer, as promulgated by such authorities as the Chicago Manual of Style, the New York Times Style Manual, William Safire, and Henry W. Fowler, is that the subordinate clause in this case (i.e., the clause beginning with "that") takes a *plural* verb. The reasoning goes as follows: The verb must agree with the subject of the clause, which is the relative pronoun "that," and a pronoun has the same number as its antecedent, which is "few." Since "few" is plural, "that" is also plural, and so ultimately must the verb be as well.

    Now I suspect some will argue that "one," and not "few," is the antecedent of "that." To see why this is *not* the case, just rearrange the sentence "X is one of the few that are Y" as follows: "Of the few that are Y, X is one," which, although a little awkward, makes perfect sense. But try that with "X is one of the few that is Y" and you get "Of the few that is Y, X is one," which is clearly a clinker!
     
  16. drftlussier New Member

    English
    Both variants are not acceptable; only one is correct: the plural predicate, for the subject of the predicate that is a relative-pronoun whose antecedent few is plural.

    So, in the examples listed:

    The Lehigh Valley is the third-largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania, and one of the few that is growing.
    is wrong and should be stated
    The Lehigh Valley is the third-largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania, and one of the few that are growing (One that is growing OR One of the few that are growing)
    and
    [SIZE=-1]But these days, Chenega is one of the few that still leads this kind of subsistence life
    is wrong and should be stated
    But these days, Chenega is one of the few that still lead this kind of subsistence life (One that still leads OR One of the few that still lead).

    The proof lies in the rephrasing of the sentences:
    Of the few that are growing, the third-largest metropolitan area in Pennsylvania is one (or Of the few that are growing, one is the Lehigh Valley.)
    Of the few that still lead this kind of subsistence life, Chenega is one.

    [SIZE=-1]The confusion for some comes from the fact that some speakers and writers see one further up in the sentence and regard it as being the subject of the qualifying phrase of the few that..., but it is not. If one were the subject, the sentence would read:
    But these days, Chenega is one that still leads this kind of subsistence life.
    But, in the qualifying phrase of the few..., the antecedent of the relative-pronoun that is not one but few, which is plural.

    So we have:
    She is one of those people that like pizza (reworded: Of those people that like pizza, she is one) [the antecedent of that is people, which is plural].
    However, She is one that likes pizza [the antecedent of that is one, which is singular].

    He is one of those people that are professional (reworded: Of those people that are professional, he is one) [the antecedent of that is people, which is plural].
    However, He is one that is professional [the antecedent of that is one, which is singular].


    This blatant error in logic and grammar is prevalent, as we hear and see evidence in colloquial speaking and writing, as well as in television and film. The error is widespread even at the academic level, requiring my editing even doctoral theses for writers of all academic levels. It is tiresome that my academic instruction must, oftentimes, be sidetracked to include instruction on such language basics.


    [/SIZE]


    [/SIZE]

     
  17. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    I disagree with your assertion. The subject of the sentence is Gene Krupa. Gene Krupa had a band. The band is singular and happened to be one of the few centred on a drummer.
     
  18. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    Gene Krupa had one of the few big bands that were centered on a drummer.

    The antecedent of that is the NP the few big bands, and it's them that were centered on the drummer.
    G. Krupa's was one of them.

    GS :)
     
  19. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    We need to distinguish the main clause from the subordinate clause:

    Gene Krupa had one of the few big bands that were centered on a drummer.

    Now, within the subordinate clause, it is necessary for the verb to be in agreement with its subject (plural subject takes plural verb).

    In this case, the subject of the subordinate clause is 'that'. Here, 'that' is a relative pronoun: it stands for the noun to which it refers. The noun to which 'that' refers is 'bands'. 'Bands' is plural; therefore 'that' is plural; therefore the verb must be plural: 'were'.

    The meaning of the sentence is that there were few big bands centred on a drummer and Gene Krupa had one of them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  20. drftlussier New Member

    English
    There is only one correct answer: plural predicate.

    If the sentence were
    Gene Krupa had one that was centered on a drummer
    then the singular predicate would be correct because the antecedent of the relative-pronoun subject that is one.

    However, this is not the original wording of the sentence.
    The phrase of the few big bands changes the antecedent of the subject to bands, which is plural.
    So the correct wording is
    Gene Krupa had one of the few big bands that were centered on a drummer.

    Confer: One of the few big bands that were centered on a drummer was Gene Krupa's.
    Analysis: One [of the few big bands that were centered on a drummer] was Gene Krupa's.
    Reworded: Of the few big bands that were centered on a drummer, one was Gene Krupa's.


    This - and proper language, in general - is not rocket-science.




     

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