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One of my friend(s) is/are

This month I am going to give you a lowdown on one of the most common mistakes non-native speakers of English tend to make. It is understandably confusing but very easy to correct and remember once you understand the logic.

‘One of my friend is a …’ or ‘One of my friend lives in …’ I am sure we have all heard such sentences before. What is wrong about these sentences is that the noun ‘friend’ is not plural. Like I said earlier, it is understandably confusing to some of us because the presence of the word ‘One’ makes us want to use the noun ‘friend’ in the singular.

However, if you look closely, you will see that the implied meaning of the phrase is ‘one of the many friends I have is a …’ or ‘one of the many friends I have lives in …’ and hence the noun that follows the structure ‘One of + possessive pronoun (my, your, his, her, their, our, its)’ will always be plural.

The correct way to say this will therefore be ‘One of my friends is a …’ or ‘One of my friends lives in …’

And yes, the verb that follows such a construction will always be conjugated depending on the subject used, in this case ‘one.’ It would be a mistake to conjugate the verb depending on the noun used, in this case ‘friends’.

So you will always say ‘One of my friends is’ AND NOT ‘One of my friends are

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Sandeep Nulkar Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, BITS Private Limited Sandeep Nulkar heads one of India’s largest translation and localisation companies. He is a linguist by passion, businessman by choice and author by circumstances. Over the past decade, he has been working closely with the corporate world and with students and the academia to bring credibility and recognition to the Indian translator within and outside India.