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I've run into this problem multiple times when writing the following:

  1. "one of the upgrades that is being considered is a ..."

Word spell check suggests that this is incorrect and it should be:

  1. "one of the upgrades that are being considered is a ..."

This correction seems wrong to me as "one of the upgrades" is essentially a singular noun; I am referring to one upgrade.

Thanks for any help on this!

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it asks about the accuracy of computer based spelling checkers, and is not about learning English. – user3169 Jan 26 '15 at 19:08
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    I'm voting to leave it open because it's about the confusion caused by a spell checker, not necessarily about the spell checker. I think that the question is "is my understanding that "one of the upgrades" is singular correct? – ColleenV Jan 26 '15 at 19:33
  • Sorry for the confusion. I can see how the question could be interpreted differently. Colleen has best described the intention of the question. – B-Ballerl Feb 1 '15 at 21:56
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I see two cases:

  • There are many possible upgrades. One that is being considered is . . . .
  • There are many possible upgrades that are being considered. One of these is . . .

When the "that" refers to "one", the singular form "is" agrees with its subject.  When the "that" refers to "upgrades", the plural form "are" agrees with its subject.

If it remains your intention that the clause "that is being considered" modify the pronoun "one", you have chosen the correct form of the verb.

It is as valid for this clause to modify the object of the preposition, in which case the plural form of the verb would be required.  Without further context, determining the better of these two choices is not possible.

"One of the upgrades that is being considered" implies that there is some number of upgrades that are not being considered.  "One of the upgrades that are being considered" does not imply anything about upgrades that are not being considered.  You may wish to base your choice on whether the implication of unconsidered upgrades is something that you wish to include.

 
Word, of course, is unaware of this implication.  It simply notes that the clause as it stands does not agree with its closest possible antecedent.

  • In addition to the grammatical help on why either form can be used, your insight into the implied meaning of each phrase has really helped me with this problem. I think that it was for the reasons you mentioned why I felt that there was something inherently wrong with "are" in the context of my writing. – B-Ballerl Feb 1 '15 at 21:48
  • I think you should cut and paste this answer with some adjustments as an answer to this ELU thread – Araucaria Mar 10 '15 at 1:21
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"one of the upgrades that is/are being considered is a . . ."

If the situation is that many upgrades are being considered and your sentence is going to continue on to discuss only one of them, then both "is" and "are" would be considered to be grammatical and acceptable as standard English.

The rest of this post is copied from one of my other (lengthy) answer posts, and its info might be helpful to you:


The power of "one": When "one" is the head of a partitive, the presence of "one" can often attract a singular verb, and it can do that even when the semantics call for a plural verb. CGEL page 506 (and especially notice version [22.ii ]):

. . . The relativized element in these examples is object. Where it is the subject that is relativized, the expectation would be that the number of the verb would be determined by the antecedent, giving a plural verb in Type I, and a singular in Type II. In practice, however, singular verbs are often found as alternants of plurals in Type I:

[22]

  • i. He's [one of those people who always want to have the last word]. -- (Type I )

  • ii. He's [one of those people who always wants to have the last word]. -- (Type I )

  • iii. He's [one of her colleagues who is always ready to criticize her]. -- (Type II )

Examples [i] and [iii] follow the ordinary rules, but [ii] involves a singular override. It can presumably be attributed to the salience within the whole structure of one and to the influence of the Type II structure (it is in effect a blend between Types I and II ). But it cannot be regarded as a semantically motivated override: semantically the relative clause modifies people. This singular override is most common when the relative clause follows those or those + noun.


NOTE: CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

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    +1 - but how do we know in these examples that the relative clause is modifying people and not one? I get the rationale, but still don't see that H&P have totally convincingly made the point with these first two examples ... :) – Araucaria Jan 28 '15 at 10:10
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    @Araucaria Because you're one of those kind of people who always ask questions like this. :D – F.E. Jan 28 '15 at 10:19
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    Have plagiaried your post here! – Araucaria Mar 13 '15 at 14:04
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    Aargh! Thanks, yes :) Any random Friday afternoon posts of mine are kinda prone to massive typos. Firstly because they get written in a small window between my last lesson and the social programme where I have to take the students down to the pub (it's a hard life). Secondly, that computer in the staff room doesn't seem to let the spell check work ... – Araucaria Mar 13 '15 at 22:41
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    @Araucaria Interestingly, in that generative textbook (SPE) I'm going through, there's this: page 389, examples as part of #24: "Each of the politicians who were elected bought votes" and "Each of the politicians who was elected bought votes". And then the book goes on to prepose the PP to bring out the differences via #25: "Of the politicians who were elected, each bought votes" and "Of the politicians, each who was elected bought votes". – F.E. Mar 14 '15 at 8:06
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Your reading is correct. If you have have specified a single subject, the verb should be in the singular form as well.

"one of the upgrades that is being considered is a..."

You can see that it is correct by removing the prepositional phrase "of the upgrades."

"one that is correct..." versus "one that are correct..."

In different phrasing the verb might be plural. I've bolded the subjects and verbs for clarity.

Among the upgrades that are being considered is one that is a...

Grammar correction is notoriously less reliable than spelling correction, which is often unreliable as well. Congratulations on being good enough at a foreign language to recognize the error. :)

  • Thank you for the edit Adam. I originally wrote, "You're reading it correctly." and then altered the phrasing without changing the "you're." Ug. – Jason Patterson Jan 26 '15 at 18:47
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    I disagree. "These are the upgrades that are being considered. One of them is a..." – Stephen Dunscombe Jan 26 '15 at 22:03
  • Thank you for your help on understanding the grammar. This answer will definitely help me in the future. – B-Ballerl Feb 1 '15 at 21:50
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I'd say that are would be correct here. The upgrades (plural) are being considered, and it is one of them. Therefore:

one of the upgrades that are being considered is a...

However, "that are being considered is a..." is correct because it is only one of the upgrades.

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