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, 2015 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, 2015 at 20:16
  • 2
    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, 2015 at 23:15
  • 1
    @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, 2015 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 :-). Feb 17, 2015 at 14:31

4 Answers 4


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.


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


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.

  • Shouldn't the relative clause in "I am one of the members who will not be able to afford the new fees." be nonrestrictive to allow the second interpretation you give it, in the majority of plausible contexts? Feb 24, 2020 at 18:33
  • If you're asking about comma placement, I'd say it would be unusual here. If you're asking about validity, compare 'He is a member of the Government who actually knows what he's doing'. Feb 24, 2020 at 18:52
  • I agree it is valid, but I think it would be valid in a small number of contexts only; in the majority of plausible contexts I can imagine the relative clause providing only supplementary information, making the absence of a comma there technically incorrect. I don't know about how usual or otherwise it is in actual practice to place the comma there. Feb 25, 2020 at 16:33
  • 1
    Yes, but it seemed a valid point of English to raise. OP didn't specify which sense they intended. Feb 25, 2020 at 17:27

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, 2015 at 18:28

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.


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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