@caleb72: I agree that if the sentence meant to refer to one boy then it would have used "1 of the 6 boys is ...". Any attempt to use "1 in 6 boys" to signify one boy would definitely be misleading.
But what if the sentence was "2 in 6 boys"? Is there general agreement that this should be "2 in 6 boys are" ?
If so, then the distinction comes down to making a verb choice based on the number "1", rather than the noun "boys". But notice that the number is not "1", it's actually "1 in 6", but we are going to ignore that reality when choosing the verb.
For some reason it seems clear in my head that we are talking about "some-number-of boys", not "one boy", and as a result I thought the rule was clear. Obviously I'm wrong, it's not clear, but I can't seem to find the logic in thinking "1 in 6" is singular.
Last edited by gmw; 09-01-2013 at 12:56 PM.