Which one is correct?

  1. He is one of the boys who play football.
  2. He is one of the boys who plays football.

Please state the reason as well.

  • 1
    I don't think this is an exact duplicate. Unlike the earlier question, either of the two seem correct to me, though with subtly different meanings.
    – tobyink
    Oct 7, 2014 at 10:45
  • 1 means he belongs to the set {the boys who play football} (doubtless considered locally rather than globally). 2 means he belongs to the (again local) set {the boys} and also to the set {people who play football}. Mar 11, 2017 at 15:46
  • For the non-mathematicians: (1) means There is a group of boys who play football; he is one of them. // (2) means There is a group of boys. He is one of them and he happens to play football. Sep 21, 2019 at 16:33
  • 1
    @Mr Reality 'who plays football' is certainly non-defining in the mathematical way I've defined it. I'd never use such a sentence myself, other than in a contrived way, where I'm rebuffing 'All those lads are lazy'. As at the other string, I'd consider both clauses defining then. The comma would seem somehow out of place, and if I read it out, I'd leave no pause. But I'd use 'He is one of the boys you're talking about ... and he plays football.' Dec 30, 2019 at 20:08

1 Answer 1


The relative pronoun "who" refers to "the boys", a plural, so the verb takes the plural form. You can check it by transforming: the boys - Which boys? - They play football.

  • Thank you for your answer, rogermue. I was also thinking same. :) Oct 7, 2014 at 10:34
  • Isn't the subject of the sentence he? "Who is he?" He (belongs to a group of other boys) plays football.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 10, 2015 at 8:37

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