Even among those who pay attention to grammar, the none is versus none are debate can be a spirited one. Do you know which one is correct?
We don’t want you to get it wrong or to follow misguided advice. That’s why we are going to clear things up in today’s post.
As a starting point, let’s address one issue that causes a lot of confusion.
None Can Be Singular or Plural
Some people will tell you that none are is always incorrect because none is singular. However, in certain contexts, none can carry a plural connotation.
None can be short for “not one is” or “no single one,” which are singular uses. However, it can also take on a plural quality, meaning “not one of them “or “not one of any.” The key component here is the nuance of the prepositional phrase that modifies none.
This might seem complicated on the surface, but it’s simpler when we look at it in a couple of examples.
None of my suits is right for a court appearance.
In this instance, none is singular because it refers to “no single one.”
Compare that to:
I spoke to all five of my teammates, but none of them are able to drive me to practice.
In this usage, none corresponds to “not one of any.”
While you will likely use none is more often than none are in your daily communications, simply keep in mind that sometimes none can take a plural verb.
How to Find the Right Version of None Is or None Are
Even with the guidelines we’ve shared, we still understand it can be difficult to find the right answer between none is or none are when you aren’t sure. In those cases where you might still feel confused, simply follow two basic rules.
1) Ask yourself whether the context seems singular or plural. If it’s singular, go with none is, but if it’s plural, then use none are.
2) If that rule doesn’t help, then default to none is. That usage is more accepted, and it tends to be right more often than not when both versions sound correct to you.
All in all, this represents a finer point of American grammar. So, if you struggle to get it right with every reference, there’s little cause for concern. You’ll get better with practice, and it isn’t the sort of thing most others are likely to catch or correct very often.
Give Your Grammar a Boost
Figuring out whether to use none is vs. none are is a good example of the grammatical challenges some of our readers might run into. If you want to learn more about grammar and have fun doing it, we welcome you to return to our site again soon. If you have any thoughts or questions about none is vs. none are, be sure to leave us a comment below.
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