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In Italian, the equivalent of none is nessuno (or nessuna), which is never used as plural, nor does it have a plural form.

When I use none in English, should I use the singular (e.g. "none of them is perfect"), the plural (e.g. "none of them are perfect"), or both are correct?

  • kiam, "use the plural verb when the of-phrase finishes with a plural noun" Jespersen says in "A Modern English Grammar". – user114 Feb 13 '13 at 11:08
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Idiomatic English accepts both "none are" and "none is" as grammatically correct. Not everyone agrees. If Barrie answers this question, I'm sure he'll point out that CGEL supports both usages. I do too, and I use whichever I feel is appropriate for the particular sentence I'm writing or editing. You cannot say "neither are" but must say "neither is" because it's disjunctive, but "none" is a collective as well as a collection of individuals, as in "the team are demoralized" (BrE) and "the team is demoralized" (AmE).

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Obviously a translation from German into English, but look at the words in bold. This is grammatical and idiomatic English.

The Oxford Dictionary online has a usage note about the singular versus plural controversy: both are grammatical.

  • You say not everyone agrees; over which usage would there be disagreement? Mass nouns used with "none" are conjugated as singular, while count nouns are conjugated as plural except in cases where the only alternative to "none" would be "one". "Which one of the Howard brothers appears [singular conjugation] in the middle of a Three Stooges title card? None of them does [also singular]--Larry Fine appears there." – supercat Jul 2 '14 at 15:39

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