Usage Note: It is widely asserted that none is equivalent to no one, and hence requires a singular verb and singular pronoun: None of the prisoners was given his soup. It is true that none is etymologically derived from the Old English word ân, “one,” but the word has been used as both a singular and a plural noun from Old English onward. The plural use can be found in reputable sources such as the King James Bible, Dryden, and Burke; and H.W. Fowler described the traditional rule as “a mistake.” Either a singular or a plural verb is acceptably used in a sentence such as None of the conspirators has (or have) been brought to trial. When none is modified by almost, however, it is difficult to avoid treating the word as a plural: Almost none of the officials were (not was) interviewed by the committee. None can only be plural in its use in sentences such as None but his most loyal supporters believe (not believes) his story.
Blogs I Follow
- Looking forward to reading some new Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
- “Novels are machines for falsely generating belief”… essay on fiction, by Zadie Smith in The New York Review of Books
- The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
- Fiasco, by Thomas Ricks
- Adam and Allison Grant rewrite children’s books and much fiction: “Noble deed doers, you should first lecture the victims and help them help themselves more otherwise you are an enabler…”
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