During one of our English language classes, we came across this sentence where we needed to cross the wrong word out:

The statistics, carried out by a university, reveals that two-thirds of the adult population suffer from unemployment, one of the most important city phenomenon/phenomena.

Some students said the singular phenomenon should be crossed out, but the teacher said the plural phenomena should be instead, so the correct answer was "one of the most important city phenomenon". Why? As I know, when we say "one of the X" we use a plural word. Is it not correct? I searched this online but I'm still really confused, please explain thoroughly.

1 Answer 1


The correct answer is

... one of the ... phenomena.

Use the plural, as you suggest. The teacher made a mistake.

I think that book is untrustworthy.

The sentence has several other errors and infelicities. It starts

The statistics ... reveals ...

when it should start

The statistics ... reveal ...

The sentence ends

one of the most important city phenomena.

which is wrong. This would be correct but ugly

one of the most important of the city's phenomena.

In any case I think "phenomenon" is the wrong word. The whole sentence would be better as

Statistics from a university study reveal that two-thirds of the adult population suffer from unemployment. That is one of the most important facts about the city.

  • Honestly, our teachers are not natives and we do get some wrong information from them occasionally, but we realise it only if one of us questions the answer. Thank you for the explanation (even though I added the thanks in the original post, it was edited out by someone for some reason, anyway).
    – user132115
    Mar 23, 2021 at 19:32
  • 2
    Then do keep questioning your teacher when you have doubts. That's what good students do. A good teacher will welcome corrections. Ask questions here for confirmation. Mar 23, 2021 at 19:38
  • The phrase "one of the most important city phenomena" does not mean the same thing as "of the city's phenomena"; the first one is slightly awkward, but the equivalent would be replacing city with urban. Mar 24, 2021 at 2:58
  • @chrylis-cautiouslyoptimistic-You are right if you read "city" in the original sentence as generic. I read it as referring to some particular city. It's impossible to know which the author of this awful sentence with no context meant. They may themselves have no idea, since the purpose of the sentence is only to ask the reader to decide between "phenomenon" and "phenomena". Mar 24, 2021 at 20:29

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