1

I'd like to know why the answer to "How much did you pay?" is "nothing," rather than "none."

As far as I can tell, the answer to how much/how many should normally be "none," as in:

A: How much water did you give the plants?
B: None, I haven't got around to it yet.

I suspect the reason it should be "How much did you pay?" -> "Nothing." is that if you have a "how much" question with no direct object, the answer should be "nothing," but I'm not sure whether that is correct or not.

3

It's not an issue of water vs. money, because the answer to "How much money do you have?" is (as with water) "None" and not "Nothing". Your intuition is correct about the presence of the object.

Another way to look at this is to answer a question of "how much" in a complete sentence to see which applies, and use "none" where "no XXX" would appear in the full answer:

  • I gave "no water" to the plants. ➞ none
  • I paid "nothing". ➞ nothing
  • I have "no money". ➞ none

If you can't answer the question clearly with an object, then you would use "nothing". In the case of "How much did you pay?", try saying "I paid no..." no what? There is no object. You could add an object (e.g. "money"), and say "I paid no money", but when providing a short form answer ("none" or "nothing"), you aren't allowed to remove words you secretly added!

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