I came across this exercise:

There’s no one ... wishes peace.
A. who
B. that
C. but

At first, I was confused with “who” and “that” as I thought both of them were correct, but then the answer turned out to be “but”. I don’t know why who and that are wrong and I need some more information about the usage of “no one but + Verb”. I’m familiar with “no one but + N”, but this is the first time I’ve seen this structure.

  • All three options make valid sentences, though of course one would assume that everybody , rather than nobody, wishes for peace. Unless more information was given about the context of the sentence, it's nonsense to say that A and B are 'wrong'. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 13:06
  • Do the options make any difference in meaning?
    – user117023
    Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 13:52
  • Yes, as I indicated. The first two mean that nobody wishes for peace, the third that everyone does. But in this context means except - there is no-one else except for those who wish for peace. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 16:31
  • I’ve been looking for more information on the structure “no one but V”, but I haven’t found anything about it. I would be grateful if I can get more information about it.
    – user117023
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 14:31
  • None but is more usual, though it's a rather old-fashioned, poetic usage. There's a saying (from a 17th century poem by Dryden) None but the brave deserves the fair (only a brave man deserves a beautiful woman). See forum.wordreference.com/threads/not-one-but.2927774 Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


A and B are certainly correct grammar. If I was answering I'd choose A because "who" is more often used for the relative pronoun when referring to a person. But "that" is also used (and here you can argue logically "no one" isn't a person...)

"But" is wrong. It is possible to use "but" as a conjunction. In that case it links two clauses. You could say "There is no one but one who wishes peace" or "There is no one who wishes for aught but peace" These are both formal and marked expressions, and not typical of normal writing.

The expression: "There is no one but wishes peace" is incorrect grammar. The only way I can parse it at all is to assume that "wishes" is a plural noun which is a noun adjunct to peace, and the noun phrase "wishes peace" is a somehow a compound noun that is a type of person.

(There may be some archaic poetic uses, Kate in a link gives "Not one but hung limp" in a poem by Frost to mean "There was not one person who did not hang limp")

A bit of googling shows that this precise phrase has found its way into some Chinese grammar studies (http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4bff2ed8010007ms.html) Nevertheless, the test is wrong, as a test of modern standard English.

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