Tuesday, August 28, 2007

S-V Agreement: The Grammar for "None"

I've found myself stumbling over the correct grammar to use for the word "none." Is it "None of you wants to go" or "None of you want to go." In other words is none singular or plural?

The good news is proper English grammar says that it can be both singular and plural. For example: "None of the t-shirts I bought is red." Here, imagine that I bought several t-shirts and not a single one is in the color red. The meaning is the same as "None of the t-shirts I bought are red." In this case, imagine again all the t-shirts I bought and they're all in other colors apart from red. Here are other examples: "None of the students were late" and "None of the students was late."

Supposedly, the only difference between using the singular and the plural where none is concerned is that the singular is more formal. In other words, use it when you're writing a formal document, an English academic paper, or when you're speaking at an official function.

Won't it be nice if English were always this forgiving about rules?

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