None was or none were?

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A reader asked me a grammar question about what verb agrees with “none.” Is it singular or plural? Unfortunately grammarians do not agree on the answer to whether “none” is singular or plural. If one takes the stance that “none” means “not one” then the answer is that none is singular and therefore the answer to your question is “…was valid” as written. However, you could also see that the implication of the sentence is that all of the actions were not valid; therefore, none were valid. So some grammarians look on this form as a plural subject.

I think “were” reads better, but be prepared for opposition no matter which way you write it.

I refer you to this blog on English writing for a reference for the flexible option: http://www.englishrules.com/writing/2005/none-singular-or-plural/
The Grammar Book also gives us this flexible option: http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/subjectVerbAgree.asp

Another reader asks about graduation:

I occasionally become annoyed when I hear someone say that they are going to graduate college, instead of I am going to graduate from college. I hear this so often that I had to ask which is correct. My belief is that graduate from college is correct, but I am not always right. So, I am asking here.  Thank you.

You are absolutely correct, and you are not the only person to pose this question to me. The correct term is “to graduate from.” My favorite grammar podcast did a whole show on it. Here’s a link: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/graduated-from.aspx

Which and when?

I was asked:

Why do we sometimes use ‘WHICH’ for place in a relative clause, instead of WHERE
E.G. The town where i was born.
The town which is situated on….

“Which” and “where” answer two different questions. “Which” differentiates one from another. “Where” is specifically about location. Sometimes they overlap because we differentiate by location. For example “The town in which I was born” is the same as “The town where I was born.”

2 thoughts on “None was or none were?

  1. DRF

    I notice that this website shimmies back and forth between American and British punctuation styles (commas tucked inside quotation marks vs. commas placed the way a question mark would be placed). I know that both systems are correct depending on the context, but you should really pick one or the other and stick with it.

  2. Editor Post author

    Good point. I have tried to use the American system, and I have corrected the one in this point, but I would appreciate you pointing out other instances of this, or other problems you perceive.

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