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Is none of singular?

Asked by [ Admin ] , Edited by Peter Mortensen [ Admin ]

Consider:

None of them seem to solve the issue of spamming the refresh button.

Should it be the following?

None of them seems to solve the issue of spamming the refresh button.

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1 answer

3

dangph

No. The first one is correct.

The argument that none stands for not one is based on bogus etymology.

If the thing you are writing about is plural, then none is plural. If it's singular, then none is singular.

Many educated people will tell you that none is always singular. They are wrong.

Merriam-Webster's Concise Dictionary of English Usage has a good treatment of this issue.

NN comments
subutai
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The Compact OED: “Some traditionalists maintain that none can only take a singular verb (as in none of them is coming tonight rather than none of them are coming tonight). However, none is descended from Old English nan meaning ‘not one’, and has been used for around a thousand years with either a singular or a plural verb, depending on the context and the emphasis needed.”

subutai
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The Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary has an example: “None of my children has/have blonde hair.”

subutai
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The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary has an example: “None of my children has/have blonde hair.”

donald remero
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For the most part, I just absolutely love the manner in which Merriam-Webster handles commentary on usage. Their ‘tricks of the trade’ for handling discrepancies between common perception and common practice and/or between proper perception and proper practice are just excellent — worth admiring and worth borrowing.

clint
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I agree—the teaching resources my current high school uses consider none to be singular or plural depending on its use, just as you said. I actually hadn’t heard that none is always singular until now.

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