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Which verbs or verb should be used to fix the grammatical point?

He is one of the boys who_____interested in learning English.

  1. is
  2. are
  3. Both are acceptable.

Let me know why? Attach any references to support your ideas. Moreover, I have also gone through Oxford Practical English Usage by Michael Swan in which he used both verbs. So, my point is which one should be used in the professional tests and examinations?

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  • So why do you doubt what Michael Swan says?
    – BillJ
    Feb 4 at 10:55

3 Answers 3

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[1] He is one of the boys [who are interested in learning English].

[2] He is one of the boys [who is interested in learning English].

The verb-form depends on whether the relative clause belongs in the embedded NP (with plural "boys" as head) or in the upper one (with singular "one" as head).

The natural interpretation is that there is a set of boys who are interested in learning English and "he" is a member of that set. In which case the relative clause belongs in the embedded NP (with plural "boys" as head), and a plural verb is thus correct, as in [1]

However, [2], with a singular verb is common enough. Although the relative clause once again modifies plural "boys", a singular verb is used, probably because of the misplaced idea that it should agree with singular "one". It's not strictly speaking ungrammatical, but is best seen as a non-standard construction.

(Based loosely on The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language)

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There is no mystery here. The relative clause is a postmodifer of "boys" and the understood subject (and the antecedent of the relative pronoun) is boys, and plural.

So the verb should agree with a plural subject, and you must use "are".

Now with a little work you might get to use "is":

John is a boy who is interested in English.

Now the antecedent is singular.

Now in complex situations like this, it is fairly common for mistakes to be made, and so you can find sentences that might be wrong:

Luca is a paralytic boy, who is one of the boys who is the target of Monica's affections (from wikipeida)

The first "who is" is correct, but the second should probably "who are". Even better would be to completely rewrite the sentence to avoid the chain of relative clauses.

Note that "One of the boys, who is interested in English, is starting a club" The subject now is singular "one"

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He is one of the boys who_____interested in learning English.

It depends on how you parse the sentence.

People use/say: He is one of the boys who are interested in learning English.

Parse: He is/ one of the/ boys who are interested in learning English.

However, that requires that particular parse (the one above):

For me, the standard parse is: He is/ one of the boys/ who is interested in learning English.

Some grammar books say both are acceptable and I think "one of the boys" followed by a singular verb is. But in those books, both are acceptable. (Swan, for example).

However, this: Boys who are interested in English sit in the front.

Here, the parse is: Boys/ who are interested in learning English/ sit in the front.

The plural there is justified because the antecedent is plural.

Here is the ELL take on this: ELL take on plural/singular verb

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