None: Singular or Plural?


I might have addressed “none” before, but this example strikes me as a good illustration of the effect of context.

After all, none is a contraction of “not (even) one.” That’s a singular, right? But the context of the word often says none of [a group of something], and we grab that plural object of “of” to signal the number of “none.” Technically, this is incorrect. We get the number of a verb from its subject, not from some modifying phrase. This is easier to say if you take out that prepositional phrase: “None is how many cookies you get before supper.”

Well, how about this example? Last panel:

Singular doesn’t feel right, does it? If she had said “not one,” the singular feels better…

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