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In the sentence

It's one of the best films that has/have ever been made

What should the verb agreement be?

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  • 2
    Why can't it be either "has" or "have"?
    – F.E.
    Jul 12, 2014 at 3:56
  • A decent usage dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's (Concise) Dictionary of English Usage, will often have an entry on this sort of topic. In MWCDEU, there's the entry "one of those who" that discusses similar constructions. The topic often involves notional concord.
    – F.E.
    Jul 12, 2014 at 4:05
  • Why would anyone want to close this question? Can users please look at the answers and see it's not so straightforward as it may seem at first. Although the accepted answer is pretty crappy... It might be worth setting up a bounty.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 5, 2017 at 4:56
  • The OP could add a bit of research, and explain where his dilemma lied, although I suspect he already knew the answer to his question. Which is perfectly legit, but that might explain why the question is so minimalist and devoid of any detail.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 5, 2017 at 4:58

3 Answers 3

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It's plural "have".

A useful way to prove that a plural verb is correct is to front the preposition phrase:

"Of the best films that have ever been made, it's one of them."

NOT "Of the best films that has ever been made, it's one of them."

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  • You need to decide what the PP is modifying before you can front it. Dec 3, 2015 at 18:01
  • @Edwin Ashworth the of- PP is a partitive complement of the fused head "one"; it's not modifying anything.
    – BillJ
    Dec 3, 2015 at 18:27
  • With 'He is one of the boys who play/s football' you have to first determine what the PP is before you can front it: 'of the boys' or 'of the boys who play football'. You've already had to decide on 'play' in one case. Dec 3, 2015 at 18:50
  • @ Edwin Ashworth I’m not sure I follow you. The whole point of the test is to determine the correct verb form. Just front the entire PP: “He is one of the boys who play(s) football” entails “Of the boys who play (*plays) football, he is one of them”, and hence plural “play” must be correct.
    – BillJ
    Dec 3, 2015 at 19:14
  • 'He is one of the boys who plays football' is not incorrect. It has a different meaning, as tobyink has posted at the closely related “One of the children who was” vs. “one of the children who were”. / I don't like to mention the following, as I'm not altogether in favour of it, but CGEL also say that proximity agreement is also used quite often in such cases. Dec 4, 2015 at 9:30
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When using a singular phrase like 'one of the best films', 'each person in the group', 'every student in the class' the verb should be in the third person singular form. 'One of the best films that has ever been made'; 'Each person in the group is responsible for his work.'; 'Every student in the class is an adult.'

I think modern writing would strike out the connector 'that has ever been made' as so much excess verbiage and let the sentence read 'It's one of the best films ever made.' Much simpler, less pompous and certainly more common in usage than the wordier version.

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    Apples to oranges. "Each person" and "every student" are obviously singular. "One of the best films" is singular as well. But the films in it is just as obviously plural, and that is what the verb attaches to. It is "[one of] [the best films that have ever been made]". Your suggested parsing of "[one of the best films] [that has ever been made]" does not make any sense. You are saying only this one best film has been made, but all the other best films haven't. At which point the "one of" part is complete nonsense. You are no longer one of, you are the only one.
    – RegDwigнt
    Mar 10, 2015 at 11:26
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    [cont'd] So a much better approach would be to look at a professional corpus, or Google Books, and compare the number of hits for "one of the best that has" versus "one of the best that have". You will find that both are being used, and while the first variant is more popular after all, it is but by a factor of around five.
    – RegDwigнt
    Mar 10, 2015 at 11:35
  • imho, "It's one of them" (them = the best films that have ever been made) In context: a) - Here is a list of the best 500 films that HAVE ever been made. "Das Leben der Anderen" is one of them. b) "Das leben der Anderen" is what ? a) "Das leben der Anderen" is one of the best 500 films that HAVE ever been made."
    – Centaurus
    Feb 18, 2016 at 15:30
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It should be have. That verb agrees with films, because it's a relative clause of the best films.

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