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"One of the features that emerge" or "One of the features that emerges"

Is 'one feature' the subject, therefore it emerges, or are 'features' the subject and they therefore 'emerge' ?

I keep looking at this sentence but can't decide! thanks.

marked as duplicate by sumelic, Nigel J, Edwin Ashworth, tchrist Dec 13 '17 at 1:54

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  • 1
    'One emerges.' 'One of many emerges.' 'One' is what 'that' refers to and 'one' is singular. 'One [...] that emerges.' – Nigel J Dec 10 '17 at 21:14
  • "that" refers to "features" here, not to "one". All the features emerge, the rest of the sentence will tell you about one of them. – Dave Costa Dec 10 '17 at 22:11
  • See also Is this correct? “One of the things that makes him great is…”, which might actually have better answers. – sumelic Dec 10 '17 at 22:37

What you've presented isn't a sentence. Let's turn it into one:

One of the features that emerge is X.

"One" is the subject of the sentence, in which the main verb is "is". So that verb is in the singular form.

"that emerge" is a modifier of "features", so that verb should be in the plural form.

An alternative phrasing in which both verbs are singular would be:

One feature that emerges is X.
  • Woah Dave, incorrect sentences are still sentences, funny though. Don't you think the following might be even more correct? "One feature which emerges" – Jesse Ivy Dec 11 '17 at 0:16
  • Thanks for all the answers. I followed all the links and read through them, and what it ends up with is that, surprisingly, there is no concrete right or wrong answer. It seems to be up to the writer to choose, therefore, I'll go with Pinker: For more than a thousand years the siren song of the singular one has overridden the syntactic demand of the plural those, and writer after writer has gone with the singular. ie. emerges, which is the one I would naturally choose. – george weston Dec 11 '17 at 2:55

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