S/V concord

Tissint was one of the meteorites that were/was actually seen while falling.

  Which verb [b]in bold[/b] is used more often in speech?


For me, “was” is more natural in both speech and writing.

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Foreigner:

I am NOT disagreeing with the language coach’s excellent answer.

I thought, however, that since you are a learner, you might want to know what many books would say:

  1. Tissint was one.
  2. One of what?
  3. The meteorities that WERE seen falling.

Other examples:

The New York Times is (supposedly) one of the best newspapers that ARE published in the world.
English-test.net is one of the many websites that HELP people who are interested in English grammar.
Mona was one of the girls who WERE screaming when they saw Justin Bieber.


Many thanks

My pleasure.

Hello Dozy,

I read an article named "Keeping the Harmony: Subject-Verb Agreement" by Susan Thurman the other day. The following sentence was taken from this source:

Vicki Brand is one of those people who always listen [not listens] when I have a problem.

 Thus, I have arrived at a conclusion that though plural verb is formally correct, singular verb sounds more natural to native speakers.  

     Is my inference correct?

The singular ‘bit’ in the above (#1) is ‘was’ and refers to ‘one’. The plural ‘bit’ is ‘were’ and refers to ‘meteorites’.

Does that mean you could read it differently: (1) “Tissint was one of the meteorites that was actually seen while falling.” = Tissint was actually seen, the others not. (2) “Tissint was one of the meteorites that were actually seen while falling.” = Tissint was seen along with the others.

I’m not certain. It may vary depending on speaker. It’s possible that I am in a minority or that my judgement on this is not very good. I found this though:



I’ll repeat: ‘was’ refers to the one meteorite and ‘were’ refers to the meteorites that were seen. Don’t please make things more complicated than they need be.

Thanks, Dozy, for the link you provided.
“This is one of those occasions in English usage that lets you follow your ear to determine what works best. If you thought “let” would have worked better in that previous sentence, you would have formal grammar on your side, but using “lets” should not get you into trouble, either.” – that suits me perfectly and spares dealing with ‘wheels within wheels.’

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Eugene:

I was wondering whether these two bad examples of mine might be helpful:

The Los Angeles Times is one of the many newspapers that publish comic strips.

Here are five newspapers. The New York Times is the only one of those 5 newspapers that does not publish comic strips.


Useful information but your second example is another kettle of fish altogether.

Hello, James,
Your examples can’t be ‘bad’ by default, as they are priceless grist to the mill of those who don’t speak English 24\7\365…; the way you deal with a subject adds a specific enchantment to them.

Thank you, Alan and Eugene, for your comments.

The Los Angeles Times is one of the newspapers which publish comic strips.
The Los Angeles Times is one of the newspapers, which publishes comic strips.

When you use a comma after the plural noun, the antecedent is ‘one’, and when not, the antecedent is ‘newspapers’. Accordingly you use the singular or the plural verb. Though I am not sure of the source, I do remember having read this version somewhere.

I would like your comments, Alan and James.

It’s not possible to put a comma there.