A few days ago, my friend Jane Brumbaugh sent me a problematic sentence from the newspaper: “He’s one of the trustees whose been instrumental.” The obvious problem is that whose doesn’t work. The correct word is who’s (a contraction of who has).
But there’s another problem too. Or maybe not! This sentence contains a controversial grammatical structure that even expert grammarians argue about. I think the sentence should read like this: “He’s one of the trustees who have been instrumental.”
But many people think this is correct: “He’s one of the trustees who has been instrumental.”
I’m going to argue my case, and then you can decide which version you think is better. To begin, compare these sentence pairs:
He’s a trustee. He has been instrumental.
He’s one of the trustees. They have been instrumental.
I think these sentence pairs have different meanings. When you combine them with who, you need different verbs.
He’s a trustee who has been instrumental.
He’s one of the trustees who have been instrumental.
You can’t say “He’s one of the trustees who has been instrumental.”
I rest my case!