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Today my friend asked me if you can use "has" instead of "have" here. I'm not sure how to explain the grammar simply. enter image description here

⑤"Since there is no other food on the table, and each of them have small plates..."

  • What strikes me is the use of "since" (as in "since three o'clock") instead of "because." – sas08 Jan 14 at 0:08
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At least in American English, "each" is treated as singular. Therefore, "has" is preferred, and "have" is non-standard.

...each of them has a small plate in front of him.

This is supported by Cambridge Dictionary, so I suspect it holds true for British English as well:

When we use each of with a plural noun as subject, it’s normally followed by a singular verb ...

Each of the buildings is surrounded by high metal fencing.

[emphasis added]

Cambridge indicates that in BrE, the use of a plural verb is common in informal speech:

In informal speaking, you will hear people use a plural verb form:

A: All twelve of us have decided to go to Argentina together.

B: How will you travel around?

A: We’ve divided ourselves into three groups and each of the groups have hired a car.

In my experience, this is not common usage from American speakers.

  • Note: I don't find the Cambridge example of plural verb usage very enlightening, because a British English speaker might use a plural verb form with a group noun like team or group anyway. – The Photon May 20 '17 at 15:20
  • Would "each group have hired a car" work in British English? – sumelic May 20 '17 at 15:31
  • @sumelic, As I understand it, it would. So would "The team have won the championship" (with no complication due to using "each"). But I don't speak BrE, so don't trust me too far on this one. – The Photon May 20 '17 at 15:42
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English verbs in present tense have a different form for the third person singular that ends in s for all verbs except to be which has more forms.

Has is that form for have.

I have X, you have X, he/she/it has X, we have X, they have X.

Each is a plural pronoun. You only use it when referring to a group of things. So you don't use the third person singular form a of a verb with it.

Each one is not a plural pronoun, though.

Since there is no other food on the table, and each one of them has small plates.

Of course in casual conversation you will probably hear the opposite a lot and a lot of speakers will barely notice it.

  • Thank you for the explanation! I'm still a little bit confused though...does that mean "have" would be grammatically correct here, but usually we would use "has" in casual conversation? – Anna May 20 '17 at 14:37
  • "Has" is wrong but you will still hear people say it. You should always say "have." – LawrenceC May 20 '17 at 14:39
  • I don't know grammar, but in COCA, "each of them has" has a frequency of 72 while "each of them have" has a frequency of 20 only. And also, see this ngram – user178049 May 20 '17 at 15:03
  • Cambridge seems to disagree with you about which verb form is used with each. See my answer. – The Photon May 20 '17 at 15:20
  • Checking each of which has/have in Google NGrams it's immediately obvious that the plural verb usage is quite uncommon on both sides of the pond. But comparing AmE/BrE corpuses suggests Brits are slightly more flexible on this one... – FumbleFingers May 20 '17 at 15:27

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