“None Were” vs. “None Was”
Rule: With words that indicate portions–some, all, none, percent, fraction, part, majority, remainder, and so forth –look at the noun in your of phrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.
None of the pie was eaten.
None of the children were hungry.
In a sentence like “None were missing,” there is an implicit noun that answers the question, “None of what?” That noun is what determines whether none takes a plural or singular verb.
None were missing. (None of the cookies were missing.)
None was missing. (None of the pie was missing.)
Note: Apparently, the SAT testing service considers none as a singular word only. However, according to Merriam
Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, “Clearly none has been both singular and plural since Old English and still is. The notion that it is singular only is a myth of unknown origin that appears to have arisen in the 19th century. If in context it seems like a singular to you, use a singular verb; if it seems like a plural, use a plural verb. Both are acceptable beyond serious criticism” (p. 664)
- None of the garbage was/were picked up.
- None of the chairs was/were comfortable.
- She inspected all of the plates and none was/were chipped.
- None of the garbage was picked up.
- None of the chairs were comfortable.
- She inspected all of the plates and none were chipped.
Posted on Sunday, June 14th, 2009, at 2:15 pm