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During my English lesson, I found this sentence in the book

A quarter of us is going to lose our job.

I think it's wrong but the teachers disagree with me. I think that the subject is "a quarter",
so it should be:

A quarter of us is going to lose his job
or
A quarter of us is going to lose their jobs

  • A quarter of us includes the speaker. It's like I am speaking in our group that some of us are going to lose our job. – mahmud koya May 18 '18 at 11:49
  • if it was "you" insted of us, you should write "a quarter of you is going to lose his job" or "a quarter of you is going to lose your job". it sounds really strange to me that the pronom doesnt relate to the subject – primax79 May 18 '18 at 12:29
  • Actually, if it's you-plural, it should be, per my answer below, "a quarter of you will lose (are going to lose) your jobs". – Jeff Zeitlin May 18 '18 at 12:40
  • Yes. When I say A quarter of you, it doesn't include me the speaker. Then I would say: A quarter of you are going to lose your job. – mahmud koya May 18 '18 at 12:42
  • You're both wrong, but for different reasons. See my answer below. Your teacher is wrong because it's not one job shared among a quarter of us; you're wrong because the subject and verb don't agree in number. – Jeff Zeitlin May 18 '18 at 12:59
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Since you’re talking about [some of] us (first person plural), your subject and verb must agree in person and number, and if the object maps one-to-one with the subject (e.g., each person has one job, not one job shared among multiple people), it should also agree in number - thus, I’d say our jobs: A quarter of us will lose our jobs. If you need/want the “going”, A quarter of us are going to lose our jobs.

It has been argued that “A quarter...” makes it a singular subject; I (and those that share my linguistic environment) disagree: The basic subject is plural, us. If we start from that, we get We (All of us) are going to lose our jobs. But it's not all of us: Some of us are going to lose our jobs. The subject is still plural. Changing some to a specific amount - a quarter - doesn’t change the number of the subject; it's still plural, A quarter of us, thus: A quarter of us are going to lose our jobs.

If the subject were to change to One of us, then the verb would become singular - One of us is going to lose his/her/xir job.

  • A quarter [of us] is – Mari-Lou A May 18 '18 at 11:59
  • I prefer "A quarter of us are..." Maybe this is a UK/US difference? (Jeff & I US against Mari-Lou UK.) I did find Ngram showing "quarter of them are" far ahead of "quarter of them is". – GEdgar May 18 '18 at 12:37
  • To me, and to everyone I've asked here in the NYC area, it's not "A quarter [of us] is...", it's "[A quarter of] {We -> us} are...", i.e., "We are going to lose our jobs" -> "Some of us are going to lose our jobs" -> "A quarter of us are going to lose our jobs" – Jeff Zeitlin May 18 '18 at 12:45
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    A quarter of us are sounds more natural to me, too (I'm Canadian if that's relevant), mainly because I put the emphasis on us as the main subject of the sentence, even though it is being modified by quarter of. However, I would use a quarter of us is not a large enough number (assuming I used that awkward phrasing) because the subject shifts from us to the number itself. . . – Jason Bassford May 18 '18 at 15:54
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    @Mari-LouA - Population is an odd word, in this case - grammatically, it appears singular in number, but whether it takes a plural form in the verb really depends on context. For your example, 25% of the population are unemployed, but 25% of the population is 32,768. – Jeff Zeitlin May 18 '18 at 18:12

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