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"They are the only responsible for the situation"

"They are the only ones responsible for the situation"

"They are the only one responsible for the situation"

Which of these options is/are grammatically correct? There are many hits for all of them in Google.

I would've thought the third option is incorrect.

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    The first is not strictly ungrammatical. 'The Meerkat Group started the fight. Of the different groups present, they are the only one responsible ...'. Synesis, but very clumsy; I'd rephrase. / 'They are the only responsible for the situation' is incorrect, like 'He is the only talking'. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 8 '16 at 19:49
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    Only your second example is correct. Anaphoric plural "they" requires plural "ones" since they both refer to the same plural antecedent. – BillJ Apr 8 '16 at 20:20
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    @BillJ Of all the teams playing, they are the only one to have won all their matches. I'd say that this is not unacceptable (though clumsy). – Edwin Ashworth Apr 8 '16 at 22:05
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"They are the only responsible for the situation"

This sentence is ungrammatical because the is a definite article which can only modify nouns, and there is only an adjective present. You could, however, restructure it to be Only they are responsible for the situation.

"They are the only ones responsible for the situation"

Here they refers to a group of people, and ones agrees with this plurality.

"They are the only one responsible for the situation"

Though there has been some debate about it in the past, many people accept they as a gender-neutral third person singular pronoun, otherwise referred to as the singular they. Accordingly, one agrees with this.

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