None of us like to be corrected…

…or is it None of us likes to be corrected?GENERAL GRAMMAR icon

Therein lies the question. Does none require a singular verb or a plural verb? I have always believed that “none” is the equivalent of “not one” and hence always requires the singular verb. (You know…the verb form with the “s” for singular…unlike nouns which becomes plural with the “s.” That makes loads of sense, right?) Apparently only old grammar books insist that none was always a singular pronoun (like the Old English word for one, from which it was formed). Hmmm…my oldness is showing.

So now I am experiencing one of those moments of not liking to be corrected. Many sources today accept the use of none with either a singular or a plural meaning depending on the context. Humpffff…sometimes having a singular focus is just easier than having to make judgment calls! 😉

Consider the following:

A) None of the cake has been eaten yet. There’s no issue here: cake is singular; none is singular; has is singular. Oh, that it were always this easy.

B) None of the money was stolen. Another one requiring no deliberation. Money is considered a “non-count” noun so a singular verb is correct. (Then why does money count so much to so many people?)

C) None of the stolen items has/have been recovered. Now we get to deliberate, ponder the context, make a judgment, weigh the options…in other words, go to a lot of painful work instead of bullheadedly insisting that it should always be “has.” Are we emphasizing that not a single one of the stolen items has been recovered or are we emphasizing that the entire group of stolen items is still missing? Evidently, the choice is yours and either verb would be correct. (Gasp, sputter, cough, sigh…)


What’s the point of a quiz if there’s no right or wrong…just context? 😉
Let’s practice a little, anyway…

1) None of these situations require/requires such drastic action.
2) None of the job applicants has/have the qualifications.
3) None of the employees is/are a relative of the boss.
4) None of the specialists is/are able to diagnose the bizarre symptoms.
5) None of these artists paint/paints with their fingers.
6) None of the furniture is/are second-hand.

Answers…or opinions (snarl):
1) a matter of emphasis: see C) above
2) see 1)
3) definitely “is” because “a relative” cinches the singular intent (whew!)
4) see 1)
5) paint (ack!)…because “their fingers” cinches the plural intent?!?!
6) obviously “is” because furniture is like money (snicker)


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