is or are?

Status
Not open for further replies.
V

vladz

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

None of the letters (is/are) open.

Thank you very much
 

izabela

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2004
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

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

None of the letters (is/are) open.

Thank you very much
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
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. ;-)
 
V

vladz

Guest
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?
 

Casiopea

VIP Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2003
Member Type
Other
vladz said:
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,
 

A.Russell

Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2004
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
New Zealand
Current Location
Thailand
vladz said:
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"
 

A.Russell

Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2004
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
New Zealand
Current Location
Thailand
None (of them) are open.
 

MikeNewYork

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
vladz said:
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:
 

MikeNewYork

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
A.Russell said:
vladz said:
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.
 

A.Russell

Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2004
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
English
Home Country
New Zealand
Current Location
Thailand
MikeNewYork said:
A.Russell said:
vladz said:
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.
 

MikeNewYork

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
American English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
A.Russell said:
MikeNewYork said:
A.Russell said:
vladz said:
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.

I have to disagree. There really isn't anyway to turn "some of", "all of", "none of" etc., into adverbials. What verb would they be modifying. Where is the subject of the sentence?

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.

You can use the plural verb if you like, but "none" is the subject of the sentence whether you like it or not. If none is not the subject, what is the subject?

The usage of "none", "each" and "either" is different from the usage of "some", and "all".

I do say "some is" and "all is" depending on the meaning. I will bet that you do too.

Some of the cakes are missing.
Some of the cake is missing.

All of the milk is gone.
All of the cakes are missing.
All of the cake is gone.

You are correct about some, all, and any deriving their number from the object of a preposition. That is standard, as the examples above demonstrate. Traditionally, that has not been true of each, either, neither, and none.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top