+0
1. There is more than one first prize winner.

2. There are more than one first prize winner.

3. More than one student is American.

4. More than one student are American.

Which do you think is correct?
1 2
Comments  
"More" in "more than one X" is an uncountable noun. So I always use "is".

paco
Teo, this is a great question, but it's giving me a headache! I'm a native speaker. I would definitely say 1 and 3, not 2 and 4, but I can't explain why! Obviously, "more than one" is inherently plural, but the versions with "are" sound completely wrong to me. I'd be interested to hear more attempts to explain why.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Hello Khoff

"I have more than one apple" might be parsed in two ways.

[1] I have ((AP: more than one) NP: apple).
[2] I have (NP: more (AP: than one apple)).
Here ; AP=adjective phease, NP=noun phrase

Which one do you think is right? If you use [url=http://bobo.link.cs.cmu.edu/link/submit-sentence-4.html] a sentence parser[/url], you will know #1 is right. I have a feeling that this "more" is a kind of pronoun to mean "more apples".

paco
Hi Paco -I'll have to give your question some thought. The last time I parsed a sentence (we called it diagramming) was over 30 years ago - they stopped teaching it by the time my kids were in school. I do have a couple of thoughts to add to the confusion, however. It occurred to me last night that although I would say "more than one student is American," I would also say "more than one of my students are American." Do you want to explain that one to me? Also, my daughter mentioned that her physics teacher was discussion whether fractions and decimals should be singular or plural -- would you say "0.1 litre is or are"? Would it be any different if it was 0.2 litres? And why do I want to say 0.1 litre but 0.2 litres?

I have to go now, but I;'ll be back later to continue the discussion. I think my basic approach to conundrums like the original "more than one student is/are" would be to re-word the sentence into something that didn't require so much thought!
Hello Khoff

I take it the first question you raised is related to the issue of subject-verb concord (or agreement). The subject-verb concord in English is really tough to acquire for me, a Japanese, whose mother tongue has no distinction in verbal forms for singular and plural subjects. My grammar books say as below about the concord:

In English the subject-verb concord is basically made up of mixture of three rules: (1) "grammatical rule", (2) "notional rule" and (3) "proximity rule".
(1) The grammatical rule is "singular verbs to non-plural nouns and plural verbs to plural nouns".
[EX] This apple is delicious but those lemons are sour.
[EX] English is a tough language to learn.
(2) The notional rule is "use plural verbs when we can feel in a non-plural noun more than one person".
[EX] The audience have got tired of his speech.
(3) The proximity rule is "choose a verbal form to agree to the form of the nearest noun in the subject noun phrase".
[EX] Either of your friends are welcome.
These three rules often conflict each other and the priority for the choice in such a case can vary depending on speaker.

I guess, as to "more than one of my students are American", you are choosing the verbal form according to the proximity rule, and you say "more than one student is American" according to the grammatical rule rather than to the notional rule.

As to the problem of 0.2 litres, I think, Dr Math will give you much better answers than mine. Please have a look at [url=http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/57224.html ]Dr Math's " Use of Plural with Decimal Numbers"[/url]

paco
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
KhoffAlso, my daughter mentioned that her physics teacher was discussion whether fractions and decimals should be singular or plural -- would you say "0.1 litre is or are"? Would it be any different if it was 0.2 litres? And why do I want to say 0.1 litre but 0.2 litres?
discussing
Hmm. Tricky. My 2 cents worth:

I think it is only accurate to say "0.1 of a litre" and "0.2 of a litre". The plural "litres" should only be used when there is more than one litre. (or are more than one..he he - not)

The urge to say "0.2 litres" is totally understandable and because of the 2, probably won't get noticed often as being inaccurate. But I am pretty sure it's not grammatically correct.
Acc to Swan (Practical English Usage, 504.3) more than one is generally used with the singular.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more