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Old 08-27-2013, 07:45 PM   #1
MacEachaidh
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"1 in 6": a grammar stumper

Hi all,
Does anyone have any thoughts on the following?

A friend asked me to proofread the new website for his organisation SAMSN. It provides support groups here in Australia for adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The website includes the following statement:

A staggering 1 in 6 Australian boys are sexually abused before they’re 18

which I suggested should read

A staggering 1 in 6 Australian boys is sexually abused before he’s 18


My friend had a real stumble over that, saying what I had suggested was "so obviously wrong" that it would stop people reading the page.

I know the current trend is to treat collective nouns as plural (which to be honest is a mental speedhump for me every time I hear it), and that how it was originally written is probably now the vernacular use, but I thought it might still be an either/or. How did it get so entrenched that the usage I suggested is now "so obviously wrong?"

It's his site, and my comments were only my suggestions, so no dramas there. And yes I know, language changes, and so on — I'm only going on language as I'm used to it, not trying to stick rules on others. But it does puzzle me, and I'd like to hear which way the general consensus lies.

Any opinions people care to offer, please?
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