General Writing and Grammar Help/Follow-up (2)


QUESTION: Thanks again, Jerry, for your past help. Here's another quick question. One often hears/sees a construction like "One of the things are a and b." In fact, it's rare to hear a construction like "One of the things is a and b." Can one justify the former as reflecting "things" as the subject? If so, is either construction preferable?

ANSWER: Richard,

Since one is the subject of the sentence and is singular, the verb must also be singular, thus is. Things is the object of the preposition of and therefore has no bearing on the verb.

Jerry Leone

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your response. I believe however you overlooked the correction of my question (sent as another question). My question as originally posted included a serious typo, which changed the nature of the question. I'm sorry for the typo.

The question should have suggested that a justification for the plural verb might be a construction whereby the subject is "a and b." (The typo was my inadvertent substitution of "things" for "a and b," in that context.) Occasionally in fact one does see sentences that place the subject at the end. What do you think?

ANSWER: Richard,

I'm thoroughly confused by your question. Are you saying: A and B are the things. That would leave one completely out of the sentence. I'm very confusing. Can you restate your question.

Jerry Leone

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I'm sorry for your confusion, and I appreciate your perseverance in the face of it. The question might have read:

"One often hears/sees a construction like 'One of the things are a and b.' Can one justify that as reflecting 'a and b' as the subject?"

As mentioned, subjects do sometimes follow the verb. So I'm eager for your opinion.


One(subject)is singular; is (verb) is singular; a and b (plural) is predicate nominative and of the things is a prepositional phrase with things the object of the preposition of.

You could say: two of the things are a and b to be grammatically correct. One is always singular. Thing is singular but things are plural!

I hope this answers your question,

Jerry Leone  

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Jerry Leone


I`ve taught writing or some aspect of the English language for nearly 35 years. I can answer nearly any question on grammar, usage or meanings of words above dictionary usage. An avid crossword fan and writer, I can also answer questions about business presentations and resumes.


I have worked with words all my life as a teacher of the language and as an amateur and professional writer. Communication is a vital force in my life and everyone else's.

Sigma Delta Chi, NY Press Association, NY Publishers Association

BA in English from the University of Buffalo, MEd in English from SUNY Buffalo, MA in English Literature from SUNY Buffalo. Course work in Journalism from Syracuse Univ., in Linguistics from Rutgers Univ. and Journalism from Univ. of Texas and Ohio Univesrity.

Awards and Honors
Chancellor's Award for Excellence Teaching SUNY, Distinguished Teaching Award SUNY Morrisville, Who's Who in American Journalism Education

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