Date: Wed, 8 Nov 1995 08:33:46 -0500 From: "Dennis R. Preston" Subject: Re: "One of the x that has/have"? I knew Larry could bracket it (and show that the rule which disallows a more 'ticklish' determination of which subject goes where is silly). Dennis Preston >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