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None is singular

Robin Pentecost

I note that many writers treat 'none' and 'neither' as singular nouns. AFAIK, these these denote single things. To me, none means 'not one'. Isn't that singular? So, "None of them is..." etc. If I'm right... Well, I could dream.

awnlee jawking

@Robin Pentecost

To me, none means 'not one'. Isn't that singular?


No. Zero isn't singular.

AJ

Dominions Son

@Robin Pentecost

Neither would be "Not A and Not B". Neither requires two items, so it's plural.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Neither requires two items, so it's plural.


I think that depends on context.

Neither candidate are suitable???
You say your wife isn't pretty but neither are my wife??? :)

AJ

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

@Robin Pentecost

To me, none means 'not one'. Isn't that singular?

No. Zero isn't singular.

The answer is none of proposals A or B or C

Given that in the sentence it has to be singular or plural I would think the singular is less of a crime.

However if the options include A+B or C+D or E + F again I would go for singular

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

I think that depends on context.

Neither candidate are suitable???
You say your wife isn't pretty but neither are my wife??? :)


Neither is necessarily plural, but confusion arises because it's used more often as an adjective rather than as a noun.

In both of your examples, neither is being used as an adjective, not a noun. The true subjects, candidate and wife are singular.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

neither are my wife

"neither is my wife", which is still referencing a pair. Neither is occasionally multiple, but is largely used to reference a pair.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

"neither is my wife", which is still referencing a pair.


I don't understand that.

As far as I can understand from my dictionary, 'neither' is used as a determiner (whatever that is!) and should match the object it applies to - in this case making it singular.

Compare 'Neither of our wives xxx blonde.' Should xxx be 'is' or 'are'? I wonder if it's an instance where either might be correct depending on whether the group (pair in this case) is being referred to as a collection of individuals or a coherent organisation. For example 'Manchester United is the world's most famous football club' and 'Manchester United are playing well at the moment'.

AJ

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

'Neither of our wives xxx blonde.' Should xxx be 'is' or 'are'? I wonder if it's an instance where either might be correct depending on whether the group (pair in this case) is being referred to as a collection of individuals or a coherent organisation.

Convert "neither" to "not one".
IMHO "neither" should be used when referring to two people / objects / ideas etc. whereas "none" better refers to more than two such.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@sejintenej

IMHO "neither" should be used when referring to two people / objects / ideas etc. whereas "none" better refers to more than two such.


MIT agrees with you:

Use neither when referring to two items. Use none when referring to more than two items or to an uncountable noun.

Neither of the two candidates is very impressive.

None of the four candidates impresses us.

None of the equipment impresses us.


So I guess the answer is:

Neither of our wives is blonde.

and

None of our wives are blonde.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

It's similar to "each" being singular so:

We touched each other's nose. - correct

most people write it as:

We touched each other's noses. - incorrect

Replies:   ustourist  sejintenej
ustourist

@Switch Blayde

I agree with the correct / incorrect examples, but surely the each is referring to 'other'. Noses is only incorrect as a person only has one nose.
'We touched each other's feet' would be acceptable.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@ustourist

I agree with the correct / incorrect examples, but surely the each is referring to 'other'. Noses is only incorrect as a person only has one nose.

'We touched each other's feet' would be acceptable.


True

ETA:

But keep in mind, both of the following are correct depending on what you're trying to say:

We touched each other's eyes.
We touched each other's eye.

sejintenej

@Switch Blayde

most people write it as:

We touched each other's noses. - incorrect

Agreed because of the placing of the apostrophe. Move it to the right and it becomes correct:
We touched each others' noses which implies that three or more people are involved

Switch Blayde

@sejintenej

We touched each others' noses which implies that three or more people are involved


Actually, if it were more than two people, it would be "one another."

However, here's Grammar Girl's take on it: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/each-other-versus-one-another?page=1

She references sources that agree with it and disagree. Because of that, it's not a black and white grammar rule. But this is her conclusion:

The Safest Choice Is to Follow the Rule

Since there never was any historical support for this rule, but since there are people who believe in it today, should you follow it? Personally, I'd say no, but the good news is that it's an easy rule to follow if you choose to. Unlike using "whom" or saying "It is she," limiting "each other" to two people and "one another" to more than two isn't going to make your writing sound unnatural. Both sound fine in either situation, whether you're observing or ignoring the rule.

Bondi Beach

@Switch Blayde

How is this advice from MIT consistent with MIT's example?

MIT agrees with you:
Use neither when referring to two items. Use none when referring to more than two items or to an uncountable noun.

None of the four candidates impresses us.


Following the guidance, the verb should be plural, *impress*, not singular, *impresses*, or did I miss something.

bb

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Bondi Beach

Following the guidance, the verb should be plural, *impress*, not singular, *impresses*, or did I miss something.


I honestly don't know. When I read their examples I thought the last two were poor because it would have been clearer if they were consistent, such as,:

None of the four candidates are very impressive.
None of the equipment are very impressive.

Bondi Beach

@Switch Blayde

None of the equipment are very impressive.


I think I missed their point. They're distinguishing between "Neither" and "None," but not necessarily between singular and plural. Looking at them again, in each case their example is correct: singular.

bb

sejintenej

@Switch Blayde

When I read their examples I thought the last two were poor because it would have been clearer if they were consistent, such as,:

None of the four candidates are very impressive.
None of the equipment are very impressive.

SB: I had thought that we think in a similar manner BUT
in each of those two quotes it should singular.

Not (a single) one of the four candidates is very impressive. Using "are" implies plural but the sentence implies that all the candidates have less brain cells than an amoeba.**

Equipment is singular; the plural would along the lines of "bits of equipment". As an alternative to this reasoning see above.

** reconsidering my poorly written phrase each of the candidates has less brain cells than.... because as I wrote it above the phrase could be understood that the combined brain cells of all the candidates do not add up to those of one amoeba

Bondi Beach

@sejintenej

less brain cells


That would be "fewer brain cells," of course.

Let the thread on "less" and "fewer" begin!

Oh, wait. On second thought, let's not.

bb

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

in each of those two quotes it should singular.


I'll split the difference.

Is just sounds wrong against candidates, which is plural.

Equipment can be singular or plural, so is sounds fine with that one.

Not one candidate is very impressive.

OR

Not one of the candidates are very impressive.

My opinion, candidate(s) is the noun in these sentences that the verb needs to agree with.

richardshagrin
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Neither of our wives is blonde.

and

None of our wives are blonde.


I have no dog in this hunt, or horse in this race, but Our wives are blonde looks better to me than is blonde. Its not clear to me using none or neither in the beginning of the sentence helps with "our wives are blonde." Only a reader, no special expertise here, just what sounds good to me.

Ernest Bywater

In general usage the use of the word none is to indicate no singular member of a plural group has the matter apply to them. Thus it's a singular word applied to a group.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

As far as I can understand from my dictionary, 'neither' is used as a determiner (whatever that is!) and should match the object it applies to - in this case making it singular.

In "neither is my wife", the implied secondary subject is YOU (or I, in this case), as it's referencing "my wife". Thus it's referencing a choice between two people (my wife and I).

Compare 'Neither of our wives xxx blonde.' Should xxx be 'is' or 'are'?

In the case of "neither of our wives", it's "are". For "Neither is my wife", it's "is", as "my wife" is singular (even though the comparison is between two separate people).

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

We touched each other's noses. - incorrect

Right. My teacher always taught me touching other people's noses B wrong, right before she broke into a rendition of "Beans in my nose". She was an odd duck.

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

In general usage the use of the word none is to indicate no singular member of a plural group has the matter apply to them. Thus it's a singular word applied to a group.


It doesn't matter if none is singular or not. It's the noun that denotes the group that the verb should agree with. Anything else sound extremely awkward.

Switch Blayde

I've been reading up on it and so far only read up on "neither" (not none). So is neither singular or plural? This is a pretty good explanation: http://theeditorsblog.net/2015/09/12/either-neither-and-subject-verb-agreement/

Here's a tip that should prove helpful: there are different conditions to consider when you make your decisions about whether either and neither are singular or plural.

Under one condition, both words are always singular and take a singular verb.

Under the other condition, the choice between singular and plural will depend not only on the words either and neither, but on other words in your sentence as well.

Condition One

When either word is used as a pronoun and as the subject of a sentence or clause—and it's the only subject—it takes a singular verb. When one of the words is used to modify the single subject of a sentence, it takes a singular verb.

[there are a bunch of examples]

Condition Two

The second condition kicks in when there are alternative subjects that share a single verb. In this case we're talking about two subjects linked by or or nor.

Under this condition, the verb is singular or plural based on the subject closest to the verb. If the subject closest to the verb is singular, use a singular verb. If the closest subject is plural, use a plural verb.

If both subjects are singular or both plural, the choice for the verb is easy. It's when one subject is singular and the other plural that you have to pay attention.

Neither his mother nor my sisters are singing in the pub tonight.

Neither my sisters nor his mother is singing in the pub tonight.

Switch Blayde

Grammar Girl addressed the plurality of "none": http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/none-or-none-are

"None" can be singular or plural, but many people believe it can only be singular.

"None" Is Singular

"None" can mean roughly "not one" and be followed by a singular verb. It also takes a singular verb when followed by a mass noun:

None of the water is polluted.

"None" Is Plural

Sometimes "none" means roughly "not any" or your sentence has a sense of plurality. In such cases, "none" can take a plural verb, and it often sounds more natural.

I talked to the boys, and none of them are coming to the party

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Robin Pentecost

@awnlee jawking

You are getting into Britspeak, where the government 'are'... We collectivize themselves, as,' the Dodgers are'. But we are talking about a team that 'is'.

Robin Pentecost

@Dominions Son

No. Candidates is the object of 'of', a participial phrase. The subject is 'none of'. Singular.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I talked to the boys, and none of them are coming to the party


I talked to the boys and not one of them is coming to the party.

I talked to the boys and none of them is coming to the party.

I'd use the former. So it's still as clear as mud :(

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

I talked to the boys and not one of them is coming to the party.


It's singular here because of the "one" in "not one of them."

I talked to the boys and none of them is coming to the party.


In the example, "none" means "not any" which is plural so it would be "are" not "is."

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

In the example, "none" means "not any"


To my mind that looks like retro-justification.

What's the difference between 'not one' and 'not any'!

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

What's the difference between 'not one' and 'not any'!


Singular and plural. I copied from an earlier post what Grammar Girl said.

Sometimes "none" means roughly "not any" or your sentence has a sense of plurality. In such cases, "none" can take a plural verb, and it often sounds more natural.

I talked to the boys, and none of them are coming to the party


According to her, this is not a black and white grammar rule and the author can go either way. She, as others wrote about, simply says it's wrong to assume "none" can only be singular.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

According to her, this is not a black and white grammar rule and the author can go either way. She, as others wrote about, simply says it's wrong to assume "none" can only be singular.

As an old sci-fi fan, I believe in an infinite number of alternate nuns! ') They're much more entertaining than Trump's 'alternate truths', which are all pretty predictable.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

As an old sci-fi fan, I believe in an infinite number of alternate nuns! ')


My favorite are the naked nuns in universe 2678. Their mission is to spread sexual pleasure far and wide. :)

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

many marching groups can form a column of fours or a column of twos, but only nuns can form a column of nuns.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

many marching groups can form a column of fours or a column of twos, but only nuns can form a column of nuns.


A columnated stream of nuns? Would that be a NASER?

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

many marching groups can form a column of fours or a column of twos, but only nuns can form a column of nuns.

Likewise, any politicians can form a coalition of nuts, but nuns can't, since they ain't got nun!

And by the way, that usage is singular!

Crumbly Writer

I take it the stupid puns have finally overcome the labored literary word analysis? Too bad, it was a great source of new puns. Now there are none nun puns!

Ross at Play

@Robin Pentecost

This is a 'Grammar Point' for 'none of' from the Oxford dictionary.
* When you use none of with an uncountable noun, the verb is singular: None of the work was done.
* When you use none of with a plural noun or pronoun, or a singular noun referring to a group of people or things, you can use either a singular or plural verb. The singular form is used in the formal style of British English.

To complicate matters, American English is inclined to always treat some constructs as singular, where British English would use singular to show a group acting as a whole, as opposed to members of a group acting individually.

The short answer - you'll never be wrong treating 'none of' as singular, but for British English the plural is sometimes better!?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ross at Play

The answer about 'neither' in the Oxford Dictionary is virtually the same - you can always treat it as singular, but informal British English allows it to be treated as plural.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

You say your wife isn't pretty but neither are my wife??? :)


EDIT TO CORRECT - This post should be @AJ, not @DS

@DS in fact got his post almost spot on. The only error was saying 'neither' was being used an adjective when it was being used as an adverb.

I agree only this version is correct:
You say your wife isn't pretty but neither is my wife.

But what about?
You say your wife isn't pretty but neither are our wives.

The distinction is whether 'neither' is being used as a pronoun or an adverb. In the above sentences it is being used as an adverb modifying is/are - and is not itself either singular or plural.

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

'Manchester United is the world's most famous football club' and 'Manchester United are playing well at the moment'.

That one is a BrE vs AmE thing.
CMOS diktats somewhere sports teams are always singular.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

CMOS diktats somewhere sports teams are always singular.


I'd like to see that. What's wrong with:

The Yankees are going to win the championship.
The Yankees have the highest payroll in baseball.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

None of the four candidates are very impressive.
None of the equipment are very impressive.

Try this:
'four candidates' is a plural noun phrase
'equipment' is a mass noun and singular

Would you say 'One of the four candidates are very impressive'? I think not.
Prefer 'None [not one] of the four candidates is very impressive'

With 'equipment', I can see no reason for suspecting a plural is correct.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Not one of the candidates are very impressive.
My opinion, candidate(s) is the noun in these sentences that the verb needs to agree with.

It's not always that simple. Consider:
The group of candidates is very impressive.
A group of candidates are very impressive.
When a mass noun and 'of' are preceded by the definite article, the number of the noun phrase is determined by the mass noun (singular).
But when a mass noun and 'of' are preceded by the indefinite article, the number of the noun phrase is determined by the other noun in the noun phrase.

I have no definite ideas how to determine what's going on when other determinaters are used. :(

Crumbly Writer

How about: None of this discussion are worthy of an idiot's attention?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

How about: None of this discussion are worthy of an idiot's attention?


None of use are idiots, so we're good. :)

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

None of us are idiots

Idiots have IQs below 26.
"In psychology, an idiot has the least intelligence on the IQ scale (this now is equivalent to someone who is mentally retarded or the more politically correct "mentally challenged"); an imbecile is not quite as dumb as an idiot and is now considered equivalent to moderate retardation; a moron is then the highest level of intelligence for someone who is mentally retarded, thus considered as being mildly mentally retarded. Specifically, those who have an IQ between 0 and 25 are idiots; IQs between 26 and 50 are considered imbeciles; and those who have an IQ between 51 and 70 are considered morons."

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

Are there equivalent names for those of above average IQ? Eg 130-149: genius, 150-174: supergenius, 175+: liar.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin

@awnlee jawking

No. Zero isn't singular.

How about Zorro? He has a blade and a mask. Would those be enough of partner to say he isn't single?

Replies:   Dominions Son
PotomacBob

@Robin Pentecost

"None" means (1) not one, or (2) not any. If, in writing, you meant not one, "None" takes a singular verb; if you meant "not any," it takes a plural verb. If you're reading it, assume the author knew what he/she was doing and used the correct verb.

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Would those be enough of partner to say he isn't single?


He's a grown man running around wearing a mask and cape, of course he's single.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Are there equivalent names for those of above average IQ? Eg 130-149: genius, 150-174: supergenius, 175+: liar.

IQ of 200: the protagonists of most Mary Sue stories!

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