One of those people

Are you one of those people who cringe — or is it “cringes”? — at misused apostrophes? Or is your favorite desk dinner one of those microwave meals that stinks — or is it “stink”? — up the whole office?

bubblesSentences with “one of those” can be confusing because either a singular or a plural verb seems like it would work: “one” is singular, and “those” is plural.

Here’s an example: “Georgia is one of those insufferable people who correct others’ grammar mid-sentence.” Is the subject of the verb “correct” the noun “people” or the noun “one”? If it’s “people” (hint: it is), then you need “correct.” But if it were “one” (which it’s not, hence we use the subjunctive here), then you would need “corrects.”

Think about it this way: There are insufferable people who correct others’ grammar mid-sentence. Georgia is one of them. “People” is what “who” refers to, and “people” is the subject of the verb “correct,” which means that “correct” needs to be plural.

The more mathematically inclined may prefer to look at it this way: [Georgia is one of [those insufferable people who correct others’ grammar mid-sentence]].

As an alternative, you could say, “Georgia insufferably corrects others’ grammar mid-sentence” or “Georgia is a person who insufferably corrects others’ grammar mid-sentence.” Those are fine too, but they’re different constructions.

Now you can be one of those people who get this right — but there’s no need to butt in on others who don’t.