Mob Rule: Grammarama

I posted this question to a discussion group and it incited a veritable brawl:

Which is grammatically correct: “I have had sex with each and every member of Avenged Sevenfold, one of the bands that [is|are] part of Ozzfest 2006.”

No consensus was reached, so we can settle the matter once and for all, right here on this humble little webpage. Fight!

237 thoughts on “Mob Rule: Grammarama

  1. 201, more than enough comments for Matt. Now let’s all agree on “are” and move on. Matt, bring on the new posts!

  2. I think this is one of those British English / American English convention differences. If you simplify the sentence to just “Avenged Sevenfold is part of Ozzfest,” or “Avenged Sevenfold are part of Ozzfest,” either one sounds correct (to me, at least).

    There can be two different interpretations, though. Either “[the band] Avenged Sevenfold is part of Ozzfest,” or “[the members of the band] Avenged Sevenfold are part of Ozzfest.”

    I think both are correct, it’s just a matter of whether you’re interpreting the band as singular (the band) or plural (the members of the band).

  3. Okay, my English teacher girlfriend just set me straight. It doesn’t simplify to “Avenged Sevenfold is/are part of Ozzfest.” The phrase is “one of the bands that is/are part of Ozzfest,” and only “is” works in that phrase.

    “One” can only use the verb “is,” so “is” is correct.

  4. Urg… you “is” people are really convincing me to change my mind from neutrality to the “are” came.

  5. Please everyone! I urge you to calm down! America is still recovering from the last great social controversy from the mid 80’s.

    I can’t tell you how many friends and family I’ve lost due to my radical “Less Filling!” views.

  6. Feaverish: the is/are doesn’t refer to the “one”. It refers to the “bands that are part of Ozzfest”. Avenged Sevenfold is one of those bands, but the verb doesn’t refer to Avenged Sevenfold.

  7. I think you should rephrase the orignal comment and better yet, just send me the link to the recorded live feed! Thank you in advance.

  8. IS!!

    I’ll just make a big old argument for ‘is’, because I’m too lazy to see whether someone else already did.

    A verb must agree with the subject of a clause. “One” is the subject of this clause, so the verb must be singular to agree with it. “Bands” is the object of the preposition “of”, and verbs need never agree with objects.

    Fun fun.

  9. Dammit. I did read a bunch of the comments and I’m on the fence.

    the relative clause marker “that” is actually the subject of the verb in question, not “one”; it depends on whether “that” refers to “one” or “bands”, because as others pointed out, it could go either way.

    Now I’m leaning towards are.

  10. Nice. Throw us nerds a bone like this, and you don’t have to make any new posts for over a week.

  11. Please take it easy on the grammar, people geeeeeezzz. We knew what he meant, thats all that matters!!

  12. After much thought, I retract my statement of “is” and change it to “are.” But I agree with one of the statements up there, just take out the is/are, make it “one of the bands playing at..” and eliminate the problem!

  13. “I have had sex with each and every member of Avenged Sevenfold, one of the bands that shouldn’t be part of Ozzfest 2006.”
    I think that would sound better.

  14. it’s unqestionably “is” because you are talking about a band in the singular (“one”). But each is every, so “each and every” has to be rephrased to destroy redundancy.

  15. I’m a bit behind, but the correct answer is “is”. Unquestionably. End of discussion.

    As I’m far to lazy to read through all 200 comments, you oughta post a recap. From what I saw just glancing through, the ises have it.

  16. It amazes me the number of people who say something like “the answer is *is*” and fail to give any sort of reasoning. The majority of reasoning that is given is along the lines of “singular because it’s one band”.

    This is totally incorrect – the sentence is talking about plural things (bands) that are part of a collection (Ozzfest). This highlights the inappropriate tendency of some people to parse everything left-to-right rather than considering the sentence as a whole.

    “one” does not apply to “bands”. In this sentence, “one” applies to “bands that are part of Ozzfest”. It doesn’t matter if it’s one, two, none or many – it has no effect at all on the use of the word ‘that’ in this context.

    So stop going with your gut instinct and choosing “is” because it sounds right and you can’t be bothered thinking about it, because it makes you look stupid.

  17. Doesn’t it depend on the speaker’s intention? There are so many definite answers in these comments, but has anyone asked Matthew what he means? He could mean

  18. Red herrings:

    “It should be ‘is’ because it needs to agree with ‘one.'”
    Nope. The dependent clause “that will be playing in Ozzfest ’06” refers to “bands,” not “one.” Avenged Sevenfold is one member of a group of BANDS. What group of bands? The bands that are playing in Ozzfest ’06.

    “It’s ‘is’ in American English, but ‘are’ in British English, because the two dialects have different rules about how to treat collective nouns.”
    Nope. Again, this would only be an issue if the clause referred to “Avenged Sevenfold” (or “one”), but it does not. It refers to “bands.”

    It’s “are.” If the above arguments don’t sway you, scroll up a bit for a citation from The Elements of Style, the end-all authority on grammar and usage. Or the handful of other sources that have been cited.

    I swear: this is like the Monty Hall problem all over again. Two hours of arguing with someone, then a reluctant concession. Then, one day, it comes up in conversation, and you’re talking to someone who hasn’t heard the problem yet… repeat. Ad infinitum.

  19. Oh, Mr. Yeti, please take mercy on us and put up a new post… c’mon – tell us about Yahtzee, or maybe that new D20 system my friend pointed out to me based on erotic encounters in the D&D world (to quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up). Or, uh, what’s your opinion of Conga (by the Cranium guys)?
    No more is/are… oh pleeeeze…

  20. > Punctuate this:
    > That that is is that that is not is not that that is not is not that that is that that is is not that that is not.

    That that is, is. That that is not, is not. That that is not, is not that that is. That that is, is not that that is not.

    Q.E.D.

  21. Wow. I can’t believe so much time, effort, brain cycles, and even typing has been wasted on such a poorly-constructed sentence.

    As some have indicated, the problem is the phrase:

    “one of the bands that [is|are] part of Ozzfest 2006”

    Does he mean that one band is part of Ozzfest 2006, or that all of bands are part of Ozzfest? (Yes, it’s a music festival, but the bands could be just one part of the festival, because one could argue that the fans are also “part” of the festival, just as are the urinal cakes.)

    And who really knows what YetiMan meant? (That’s a rhetorical question. Don’t make me get all hermeneutical on you.)

  22. I think too much…

    I think that, even though one wouldn’t say “the bands that is playing at…”, still, even though it’s saying that they are one of a group of bands, all of which are playing at Ozzfest, one can say “one of the bands that is playing at…”, if one is particularly emphasizing that Avenged Sevenfold is playing at Ozzfest, and not that there are other bands as well.

    Descriptive linguistics ain’t simple. It’s one thing to observe what people say — and lots of folks think “is” fits — it’s another to say why that’s so — and lots of folks have done a really bad job of trying to say why “is” works.

  23. The proper thing to say is that I have MADE LOVE with each and every member of Avenged Sevenfold.

  24. Way to prove that people are dogmatic and contentious about… well, just about anything you can be dogmatic and contentious about.

    I’m just thankful that I managed to avoid all of you “English teachers” or “editors” who think it has to be one way or the other. I would’ve been closer to pulling a Columbine if I’d to deal with your b*s* in my schooling. It’s either, as Prof. Zwicky suggests. It changes the intent and content, but either form creates a proper sentence.

    So if I tell you you’re both right, will you pat yourselves on the back and shut the f* up?

    –Ian

  25. It would be ‘are’ as the ‘that’ refers to the bands in plural.

    i.e.: the bands that are part of Ozzfest

    not: the bands that is part of Ozzfest

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