Possible Duplicate:
Which is correct: “one or more is” or “one or more are”?
“1 in 10 are” or “1 in 10 is”?

Which is grammatical and why?

About one in 12 Australian babies is not fully immunised.


About one in 12 Australian babies are not fully immunised.

marked as duplicate by James Waldby - jwpat7, StoneyB, tchrist, RegDwigнt Dec 2 '12 at 18:28

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It depends on which word you believe to be the subject of the sentence. Technically, the subject of this sentence is one, and that would take a singular copula. Nevertheless, one could argue that babies is the real subject, and that the noun is modified by the adjectival phrase "one in 12 Australian" — and that is probably what most people's ears would hear.

My advice would be to use the singular in any academic or formal writing and not to worry about it otherwise.

  • 1
    Surely the subject is '(About) one in twelve babies' and ignoring the hedging premodifier about, one could argue that 'one in twelve' corresponds to a fraction. In UK English, one would use notional agreement: 1/12 (8%) of Australian babies are ... . However, it would have to be 'Two out of every seven babies are' but 'One out of every seven babies is...' . – Edwin Ashworth Dec 2 '12 at 17:09

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