Should nouns before 'except', 'other than' and 'but' be plural or singular? I have given some example sentences. 

1- I don't have any friend(s) but/except/other than you.

2- I have no friend(s) but/except/other than you.

3- I don't have a friend except/but you.

I think plural nouns are more common in this case. Could any native speakers please answer this question for me?

1 Answer 1


Consider this NGram...

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...which I think confirms my main thoughts on this matter. Firstly, both singular and plural are valid. But I think it's also clear than but in such contexts is a declining usage, and that the trend is increasingly towards using a plural after no.

I don't see much point in trying to identify a semantic distinction between singular and plural, since inherently the context must always imply at least the possibility that there might have been multiple friends or whatever (otherwise why bother to deny that they exist?).

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