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Old 08-28-2013, 11:57 AM   #16
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Slightly off topic, but isn't the convention to spell out numbers less than ten, i.e., "one in six" rather than "1 in 6?"

FWIW, I think that "are" is correct and, perhaps more importantly, it sounds better. To my American ears, anyway.

I note that different English speaking countries often use singulars and plurals differently.

Last edited by ApK; 08-28-2013 at 12:01 PM.
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Old 08-28-2013, 09:47 PM   #17
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Thanks for the replies, folks. Some specific responses:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitch View Post
Harry, it depends. The subject isn't the one boy; it's the statistic, isn't it? The "1 in 6 boys," not the one? Is "one" the noun and subject, or is "boys" the noun and subject?
The subject is actually a noun that is implied, and not visible in the sentence. The phrase in full is in fact "1 boy out of 6 boys", which boils down to "1 boy" being the subject. Similarly, you could express the phrase as "1 boy in 6", which still makes "1 boy" the subject. So yeah, the subject is singular.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WillAdams View Post
There are more than 6 boys in Australia, so more than 1 boy is a statistic.

One of my six friends is short.

On average, one out of six boys that I know are short.
It seems clear to me that in your last sentence the "out of six boys: is a modifier, and so is a subordinate phrase; the main structure of the sentence is "one (out of six boys that I know) are short" — "one are short" obviously doesn't work.

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Originally Posted by samhy View Post
If it were me, with my French background, I would use "is" because it's referring to the sentence subject "one in six".
I agree with your points, samhy. There seems to be a tendency in modern English to treat collective nouns as plural, treating them as if the sentence is speaking about the multiple elements in the collective, rather than the collective itself. That's a break with traditional grammar, but it's growing in usage.

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Originally Posted by ApK View Post
Slightly off topic, but isn't the convention to spell out numbers less than ten, i.e., "one in six" rather than "1 in 6?"
Yes you're right. The reason I didn't change it is there seems to be a convention, certainly with websites and things like PowerPoint presentations (!!) to put statistics as numerals, even when they're single digits, because the emaning and import is more immediately accessible.

Quote:
FWIW, I think that "are" is correct and, perhaps more importantly, it sounds better. To my American ears, anyway.
Which is why I mentioned vernacular usage. I think it's become a question of which one most people are more used to hearing, rather than which one is necessarily "correct".[/QUOTE]

I may suggest to the bloke that he reword the sentence. But he wants it as brief as possible, and I don't think he wants to change it. It's his site!

For my part, I've found the comments really useful and interesting, so thanks.
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Old 08-28-2013, 09:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samhy View Post
Maybe that can be of some help.
Quote:
Fractions and percentages take the singular when they modify a mass noun and the plural when they modify a plural noun; either the singular or the plural may be used when they modify a collective noun.
As an aside, I strongly disagree with the latter part of Mary Nell's point here. The two examples she gives for the point she makes are:

Quote:
Sigurd's soccer team is going to the state tournament. (= the team as a whole)

Sigurd's soccer team all have the flu. (= the individual team members)
For me, the second example is simply wrong, even though it occurs commonly nowadays. It's what I was referring to in my post above, where I said the trend appears to be for the collective to be perceived as meaning the individual members collectively, rather than as a single entity, and is thus given a plural verb. It happens a lot (Microsoft are releasing a new version of Windows, France are blocking the Security Council resolution), and to my ear it's wrong every time.

"Sigurd's soccer team" is not the same as "The members of Sigurd's soccer team" or "Sigurd's players", so it shouldn't be grammatically construed as if it were.
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Old 08-28-2013, 10:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacEachaidh View Post
The subject is actually a noun that is implied, and not visible in the sentence. The phrase in full is in fact "1 boy out of 6 boys", which boils down to "1 boy" being the subject. Similarly, you could express the phrase as "1 boy in 6", which still makes "1 boy" the subject. So yeah, the subject is singular.
Exactly what I would have said. If it has actually been written as a fraction, ie one sixth of boys, I would have used the plural, but in this case, I would mentally insert the implied noun and use a singular verb.
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Old 08-29-2013, 12:55 AM   #20
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Why not just say 'more than one in six boys in Australia has been sexually abused....'
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:04 AM   #21
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I vote...one (in six) is.
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:48 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacEachaidh View Post
It's what I was referring to in my post above, where I said the trend appears to be for the collective to be perceived as meaning the individual members collectively, rather than as a single entity, and is thus given a plural verb. It happens a lot (Microsoft are releasing a new version of Windows, France are blocking the Security Council resolution), and to my ear it's wrong every time.
This is a difference between British and American English. British English normally treats collective nouns (companies, etc) as plural; American English as singular. Thus in British English you would normally have "Microsoft are releasing a new product", but in American English "Microsoft is releasing a new product".

If you look at "The Financial Times" (a quintessentially British business newspaper) you'll find that companies are always referred to in the plural.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:04 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApK View Post
Slightly off topic, but isn't the convention to spell out numbers less than ten, i.e., "one in six" rather than "1 in 6?"

FWIW, I think that "are" is correct and, perhaps more importantly, it sounds better. To my American ears, anyway.

I note that different English speaking countries often use singulars and plurals differently.
No, it is not the convention in the sense that one in six is more correct than 1 in 6. It depends on the style that is being applied (at least in the U.S.). For example, if the project is a medical book applying the American Medical Association's style, the numbers are numbers, not spelled out. Chicago style would spell it out except as otherwise noted in section 9 of the manual, which runs through a lot of exceptions and other possibilities, and which probably comes down on the side of using numerals.

More important is consistency than whether a number is a numeral or spelled out.
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Old 08-29-2013, 06:35 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacEachaidh View Post
I agree with your points, samhy. There seems to be a tendency in modern English to treat collective nouns as plural, treating them as if the sentence is speaking about the multiple elements in the collective, rather than the collective itself. That's a break with traditional grammar, but it's growing in usage.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
This is a difference between British and American English. British English normally treats collective nouns (companies, etc) as plural; American English as singular. Thus in British English you would normally have "Microsoft are releasing a new product", but in American English "Microsoft is releasing a new product".

If you look at "The Financial Times" (a quintessentially British business newspaper) you'll find that companies are always referred to in the plural.
At first I was surprised by Mac Eachaidh's comment, since I clearly remember our junior high English teacher warning us to use the plural for things like a team or the police. In French, those nouns refer to an entity so the following verb is always singular, hence the special attention we have to put on those words when using them.
But thanks to HarryT's comment that made sense, because that was British English we were taught.

Side note: I was tutoring a 13-year boy last year and it was interesting to see that his textbooks were sometimes pointing out differences in spelling, pronunciation or words between British English and American English.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:00 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
This is a difference between British and American English. British English normally treats collective nouns (companies, etc) as plural; American English as singular. Thus in British English you would normally have "Microsoft are releasing a new product", but in American English "Microsoft is releasing a new product".

If you look at "The Financial Times" (a quintessentially British business newspaper) you'll find that companies are always referred to in the plural.
Well, I'm in Australia, so maybe we're between the two. I was taught that collective nouns are singular, and the Australian Style Manual maintained by the AGPS agrees, but I notice that on Australian radio and TV the trend seems to be to treat collective nouns (and entities like countries, companies or teams) as plural.

But I don't think it's so clear-cut between US and UK English either. The Chicago Manual and Strunk & White say singular, but the page Samhy linked to says a team can take a plural noun.

In the UK, the BBC Style Guide says BBC Radio News says plural, but BBC TV and BBC Online say singular. The Oxford Guide to English Usage says collective nouns are singular, with no exceptions.

Huh.
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Old 08-29-2013, 02:28 PM   #26
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I'm with Dr. Drib, as usual.

I would also say I was always taught to write out small numbers, like 1 and 6, as one and six. I recall that advice extending through at least the teens and then becoming more of a personal choice.
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:05 PM   #27
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A staggering 1 in 6 Australian boys are sexually abused before they’re 18
A staggering 17% of Australian boys are sexually abused before they're 18.

Problem solved
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:09 PM   #28
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Slightly off topic, but isn't the convention to spell out numbers less than ten, i.e., "one in six" rather than "1 in 6?"

FWIW, I think that "are" is correct and, perhaps more importantly, it sounds better. To my American ears, anyway.

I note that different English speaking countries often use singulars and plurals differently.
Agree

Agree

And I've definitely noticed that on this board too
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Old 08-30-2013, 01:02 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
This is a difference between British and American English. British English normally treats collective nouns (companies, etc) as plural; American English as singular. Thus in British English you would normally have "Microsoft are releasing a new product", but in American English "Microsoft is releasing a new product".

If you look at "The Financial Times" (a quintessentially British business newspaper) you'll find that companies are always referred to in the plural.
Harry, can you explain how in 1967 I bought in England an EP (45 rpm) called The Animals is Here?
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Old 08-30-2013, 01:03 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Penforhire View Post
I would also say I was always taught to write out small numbers, like 1 and 6, as one and six. I recall that advice extending through at least the teens and then becoming more of a personal choice.
I was taught that as well.
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