Author Topic: The pronoun “each” is singular no matter its position in a sentence  (Read 5821 times)

Joe Carillo

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This e-mail was sent to me by Forum member Jonathan Valdez (January 9, 2011):

It could be that I misread or misunderstood the "rule book," but in the following excerpt from a brief, shouldn't it be "each demonstrates" (because "each" is closer to the verb demonstrate than "Those...guides...")?

The meaning of the phrase “personal privacy” in Exemption
7(C) “turns on ‘the language itself, the specific
context in which that language is used, and the broader
context of the statute as a whole.’ ” Nken v. Holder, 129
S. Ct. 1749, 1756 (2009) (quoting Robinson v. Shell Oil
Co., 519 U.S. 337, 341 (1997)). Those basic interpretive
guides each demonstrate that Exemption 7(C)’s protection
for “personal privacy” extends only to individuals.

Thanks.

Jonathan

My reply to Jonathan:

You are correct. That sentence should read as follows: “Those basic interpretive guides each demonstrates that Exemption 7(C)’s protection for ‘personal privacy’ extends only to individuals.” But it’s not, as you say, because “each” is closer to the verb “demonstrate” than "Those...guides...” It’s simply because the subject of the verb “demonstrate” is the singular pronoun “each.”

Another way of constructing that sentence is this: “Each of those basic interpretive guides demonstrates that Exemption 7(C)’s protection for ‘personal privacy’ extends only to individuals.” As in your corrected construction, it’s not the proximity of the verb to the referent noun that’s the determining factor for subject-verb agreement here but the logic of the sentence.

In both sentence constructions, of course, the intended meaning is that each one of those guides individually and separately demonstrates “that Exemption 7(C)’s protection for ‘personal privacy’ extends only to individuals.”

jonathanfvaldez

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Re: The pronoun “each” is singular no matter its position in a sentence
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 01:58:28 AM »
Thanks for the clarification, Joe.