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Thread: is or are?

  1. #1
    vladz Guest

    Default is or are?

    What verb should I use in the sentence below and why?

    None of the letters (is/are) open.

    Thank you very much

  2. #2
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    Default Re: is or are?

    Hi,

    There are different opinions about the usage of 'none'. Some people think that it should always be singular, since it is derived from 'no one', but in fact, it can be either singular or plural. From what I have seen it is most often used as plural.

    Iza

    Quote Originally Posted by vladz
    What verb should I use in the sentence below and why?

    None of the letters (is/are) open.

    Thank you very much

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    The plural is more common, though many purists favour the singular, so it is often to be found in formal texts. I generally use the plural, but might switch to the singular when I'm trying to be formal.

  4. #4
    vladz Guest

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    So, will I consider "none" as an indefinite pronoun wherein I will agree my verb depending on the antecendent of the pronoun -- either singular or plural?

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    Quote Originally Posted by vladz
    So, will I consider "none" as an indefinite pronoun wherein I will agree my verb depending on the antecendent of the pronoun -- either singular or plural?
    I agree with the other posts. :D

    By the way, speakers use plural 'are' because it's closer in proximity to the object of 'None':

    None of the letters are here.
    None are here.

    None of us are going.
    None are going.

    The assumption is this, even though 'none' means, not one, singular in number, if its object is plural (i.e. letters, us, them), then the verb is plural; If its object is singular (i.e. apple, it), then the verb is singular, like this,

    None of them (i.e. the apples) were eaten. (OK)
    None of it (i.e. the cake) was eaten. (OK)

    None were sent. (OK)
    None of the letters were sent. (OK)
    ==> Here the object 'letters' agrees in number with the verb 'were'

    None was sent. (OK)
    None of the letters was sent. (OK)
    ==> Here the word 'None' agrees in number with the verb 'was'

    All the best,

  6. #6
    A.Russell is offline Member
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    Default Re: is or are?

    Quote Originally Posted by vladz
    What verb should I use in the sentence below and why?

    None of the letters (is/are) open.

    Thank you very much
    It is the predicate of a plural subject (the thing that has been opened) that you use "are".

    Look at the core of the sentence:

    The letter is open.

    The letters are open.


    Never mind adverbial phrases like "none of"

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    A.Russell is offline Member
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    Default Re: is or are?

    None (of them) are open.

  8. #8
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: is or are?

    Quote Originally Posted by vladz
    What verb should I use in the sentence below and why?

    None of the letters (is/are) open.

    Thank you very much
    I would use "is". The pronoun "none" deals with the letters individually, not as several things.

    Many people use "are" because they run into a plural prepositional object. It is common; it is even acceptable informally. But it is not technically correct. :wink:

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    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: is or are?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.Russell
    Quote Originally Posted by vladz
    What verb should I use in the sentence below and why?

    None of the letters (is/are) open.

    Thank you very much
    It is the predicate of a plural subject (the thing that has been opened) that you use "are".

    Look at the core of the sentence:

    The letter is open.

    The letters are open.


    Never mind adverbial phrases like "none of"
    Actually, you have that backwards. The core of the sentence is "None is open." "Of the letters" is the part that is a modifier and should probably be ignored when choosing a verb.

  10. #10
    A.Russell is offline Member
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    Default Re: is or are?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    Quote Originally Posted by A.Russell
    Quote Originally Posted by vladz
    What verb should I use in the sentence below and why?

    None of the letters (is/are) open.

    Thank you very much
    It is the predicate of a plural subject (the thing that has been opened) that you use "are".

    Look at the core of the sentence:

    The letter is open.

    The letters are open.


    Never mind adverbial phrases like "none of"
    Actually, you have that backwards. The core of the sentence is "None is open." "Of the letters" is the part that is a modifier and should probably be ignored when choosing a verb.
    Depends how you want to break it down. In most cases I would agree that a prepositional phrase would not be core to the sentence structure. In this case, since you can do away with phrases like "some of," "most of," etc, I would suggest that they could be regarded as adverbial.

    Even you take "none" as the subject of the sentence, I would say "none are" not "none is." (Do you say "some is" or "all is"?) Also, I don't like like the idea of taking "none" as the subject, since what there are none of is implied:

    None (of the letters) are open.

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