Should it be "have experienced" instead of "has experienced"?

One in 16 adults aged 18 and above — or 6.3 per cent of the entire adult population here — has experienced depression at some point in their lives, according to a 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study.

Should it be “have experienced” instead of “has experienced”?


  • has experienced, since the subject of your sentence is ‘one’, which is singular and therefore you need a singular verb. SV concord!
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I think “adults” is the subject, and “one in 16” is a quantity modifier. So “Adults have experienced”.

You can swap modifiers and it’s the same.
6.3% of adults have experienced.

One half of the building was damaged by an earthquake.
One half of the buildings were damaged by an earthquake.


Not true, but believe what you like, I’d say.

If you abridge the sentence as follows: One in 16 adults aged 18 and above has experienced depression at some point in their lives, according to a 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study, it is even obvious to someone with half a brain that One in 16 adults aged 18 and above is the subject. As I have explained so many times, it is not seen as separate individuals, but as a single unit. Therefore SV-concord and ‘has experienced’. So, without swapping, a singular noun is required!


What exactly do you mean by swapping quantifiers?

By the way in ‘Six point three percent of adults have experienced…’ Six point three percent of adults is the subject. Once more it should be ‘has experienced’.

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By swapping the modifiers, I mean the number is stated in two ways in the original sentence. You can use either number without changing the meaning.

One in 16 adults aged 18 and above — or 6.3 per cent…
6.3 per cent of adults aged 18 and above - or one in 16…

You always go by the noun with these things. Even though the modifier is the same, the meaning changes with the noun.

Some of the building was destroyed.
Some of the buildings were destroyed.

Most of the building was destroyed.
Most of the buildings were destroyed.

The majority of the building was destroyed.
The majority of buildings were destroyed.

With collective nouns, it depends on whether it/they perform the action as a group, or as individuals. “Adults” can either be collective, or countable individuals.

One in 16 adults do not experience depression as a collective group. They experience depression individually. “One in 16” tells you how many experienced depression.

Although realistically, nobody would notice if you used have or has. Neither one would stand out.


One and two do not have the same meaning:

  1. Most of one building was destroyed.
  2. Almost every building was destroyed.

Neither do three and four, same explanation as for 1 and 2.

How about this one: On average one in a million proves promising. (The Guardian, 2016).

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From CNA or Todayonline?

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Not sure what you are saying.

They aren’t supposed to have the same meaning. That was the point.


Exactly and I wanted to show you that I understood. Must be the fact, that I’m worrying about my health. I was advised to see the family doctor first and let him decide whether it would be necessary to go to a hospital and to which one. That’s the way things normally go, you see. I have an appointment tomorrow.
I hope you’ll understand.

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So, in that case either would be good, right?

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Please, take this into consideration. When a scientific study is done, its accompanying publication almost always talks about how a group of people experienced something. So, I stick to ‘has’.
So, both ‘has’ and ‘have’ are realistic depending on how the authors want to inform the public. Given my explanation, they are talking about how a group of people having had the same experience rather than individual cases, who do suffer from depression, but have other symptoms. In that case scientists know how to treat a larger percentage of people who suffer from depression rather than individual cases, which should then be treated, yes, individually.

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“One in 16 adults aged 18 and above — or 6.3 per cent of the entire adult population here — has experienced depression at some point in their lives, according to a 2016 Singapore Mental Health Study.”

  • I would say it should be ‘has experienced’.


  1. You have used the conjunction ‘OR’.
  2. When you use ‘or’, the second subject will demand the concord with the verb.
  3. The second subject being ‘6.3 per cent of the entire adult population here’, it suggests the size of the population.
  4. The size of the population can be treated as singular rather than the people (plural) that constitute it.

Thank you very much, Lawrence. I think shall just have to live with the fact that some people dislike me. But, who cares? I mean, people hate or love me, I enjoy it either way :slight_smile:


Marc, live your life the way you like but without hurting anyone else in any manner regardless of how provocative the situation is!


Dear Lawrence, I will certainly take that advice to heart.


Wow, what a lot of discussion for a seemingly simple question!

@Anglophile’s Reason #2 provides a rule I’ve never heard of (there are many rules I’ve never heard of) but it does seem to make sense.
But, the second, singular, part of the sentence is set off by dashes, and so is a parenthetical thought. I wouldn’t think that this sort of additional, deletable, information could be the subject of the sentence.

So which is correct?
“ One in 16 adults … has/have … experienced depression.”
To my mind, “One in 16 adults” essentially means “many adults”, and so it would be “have”.

If it were “one in every 16 adults” it would be “has”.

We’ve done several pages of analysis and discussion here and not come up with a strong consensus. A reader of the sentence doesn’t have the “luxury” of detailed analysis when they are reading it in real time. It’s the type of sentence where there are many nouns, both singular and plural, before we finally get to the verb. I don’t think that a reader would immediately fixate on one of those nouns as the subject, and so, as @NearlyNapping said, I don’t think the reader will notice a problem whether you use “has” or “have”.

Other points:
1). Marc - Nobody hates you!

2). Sorry for the late response, but I was busy last week staring at the Sun.

  1. You or I am going to answer her question.
  2. He or they are expected to explain it to her.
  • Ok, firstly, are you absolutetely sure nobody hates me? Fine, neither do I. I used to be very angry with some people, but not any more. The older you get, the more you realise what went wrong in your life. As Terry Pratchett once said or wrote: ‘In every old person is a young person, wondering what happened’. Mind you, I’m 53, that’s not exactly ‘old’, but you know what I mean with this thought-provoking question. To me, vengeance and bitterness aren’t good tools to lead a happy life, so I want to say I regret saying nasty things to all those who experienced my words like that.

  • Secondly, first your quote, then my question.

Why would anyone want to bother to ask this question? Because Kohyoongliat wants a satisfactory answer. That’s normal. I agree that there is no strong consensus. What it all boils down to is: ‘Do you want to be the realistic or the emotional linguist?’ Trying to be both is often, as I’ve come to realise, impossibIe, since every now and then I like dabbling in grammar, however, I’m also happy when I read a text and notice that not everything is written according to the rules of grammar. If the message is clear and you understand what someone wants to tell you…well, we should be satisfied, shouldn’t we? Yet, in every human being’s nature there’s the need to be happy, to be healthy, to complain, not to be satisfied etc., which is also very normal.
In any case, this post’s ‘issue’ has to do with the subject of a long sentence, why else asking should it be ‘have’ or ‘has’? So, you, Lawrence, NearlyNapping and I have given our views and none of us gave a wrong answer. I merely want to say: ‘English is a beautiful language, enjoy it the way you like.’