Date: Tue, 7 Nov 1995 10:23:56 EST From: Larry Horn Subject: Re: "One of the x that has/have"? Dennis P. challenges: >Bracket this: >'This is the only one of the fictions which has/*have caused us any trouble >at all' (as opposed to ' of those dictions which have...). It seems >clear to me that 'semantic' facts can indeed 'disrupt' the over-simple >prescriptivist rule. >The 'only' addition demands singular agreeemnt Let me take up the challenge. Consider: (i) This is THE ONLY ONE [of the fictions] which HAS caused us any problems. (ii) This is the only one [of [THE FICTIONS that HAVE caused us problems]] that needs to be dealt with today. Yep, it's bracketing, a.k.a. figuring out whose subject is whose. Dennis's example, (i), sports a negative polarity item (_any_) and a relative pronoun (_which_, typically associated with non-restrictive relatives) that make the bracketing, and thus the singular agreement, in (i) appropriate. In (ii), I've changed _which_ to restrictive _that_, removed the _any_, and added enough context to force a different bracketing and plural agreement (leaving, of course, singular agreement on _needs_, which does agree with 'the only one' --its subject). Safire, eat your heart out. Larry