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I have run into a small question that I would like to check. When referring to one person out of a group, would one use "is" or "are"?

For example:

  1. I know you are one of the members that is running things.

  2. I know you are one of the members that are running things.

For singular "one" it should be "is", but for plural "members" it should be "are". I'm hitting a mental block here and I'm uncertain, so any clarification would be greatly appreciated.

  • 'I know he is one of the people who are/is going on holiday next week.' Personally, I would use is, but I would be surprised if everyone did. – WS2 Feb 16 '15 at 18:01
  • This is a good grammar question that is often asked. :) . . . If you want some solid info, then a decent usage dictionary, such as Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (MWDEU or MWCDEU), will be helpful to you. In my copy of MWCDEU, there's the entry "one of those who" (pages 545-6) that discusses this issue. There's also this answer post that has info related to your question: one of the upgrades that is/are being considered. Generally, in short, choose whichever version suits your purpose and ear. – F.E. Feb 16 '15 at 20:16
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    I'm going to vote to reopen this thread. One reason is that the so-called thread that it's a duplicate of has a bad answer. If the community is going to close a thread as a duplicate, then one would hope that it can at least find a decent duplicate thread that has a good answer. – F.E. Feb 16 '15 at 23:15
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    @F.E.: I think the best course here might be to find a duplicate that has a good answer, and mark the "Singular verb following 'one of...'" question as a duplicate of it. It seems... contrary to open a question with the intent of immediately closing it again. – Marthaª Feb 17 '15 at 1:59
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    @Mari-LouA But that Q is about co-ordinations of noun phrases (one of which happens to be a 'one of my sisters' phrase). It's the co-ordination of noun phrases there that is the issue for that question. This question needs reopening, not least so it can be given an answer that includes onfi from a vetted grammar source :-). – Araucaria Feb 17 '15 at 14:31
2

I own one of the dogs that are to blame.

is a clear cut case.

I am one of the members who will not be able to afford the new fees.

is ambiguous between

I am one of the subset of members who will not be able to afford the new fees.

and

I am one of the members and I for one will not be able to afford the new fees.

With

I know you are one of the members that (are/is) running things.

I'd say that the second reading is unavailable, requiring

I know you are the one of the members who/that is really running things.

1

You should definitely use "are" since the verb's subject is the pronoun "that," the antecedent of which is "members."

If you change the sentence to this, it's a bit more obvious:

Of the members that are running things, I know you are one.

  • Thank you. I felt that would be the correct way to phrase it as well, but I wanted to see what others thought. – Gretchen Feb 16 '15 at 18:28
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You are one of the members who is running things. Who refers back to one which is singular and a person, not a thing, thus using who and not that.

-1

When in doubt rewrite. I know that you are a member of the administrative group; or, I know that you might be a member of the ruling group (sounds a little cynical)... "might" might be useful.

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