Contemporary essays, fiction, and opinion offered regularly by author Anne Brandt.

Question for the week
What types of words are made plural by adding "es"
Rules of the Games
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Dan, who says, "My wife and I are both word persons," asks...
Please help resolve a friendly dispute. My wife ran across what she thought was an error in the paper today (Indianapolis Star): (He) "is one of those reporters who like to dig." She says it should be "likes to dig." I say it is ambiguous and inelegant and should be rewritten, but that strictly speaking, it is correct. Please advise. Thanks!
Anne answers...
First, I agree that this sentence should be rewritten because it is fraught with misunderstanding. I also agree that, as it stands, the sentence could be construed as correct. Here's why: Reporters is a plural noun and therefore takes a plural verb. In this case, it's "reporters who like to dig." However, had the writer meant to say "He is one who likes to dig, then he or she has muddied the waters with the additional prepositional phrase. I suggest you and your wife call this a draw and then go forward challenging each other.
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