And Then There Were None

This is the title of A. Christie's mystery novel. Why is there the verb "were" used instead of "was"? Are in this case these two verbs interchangeable?


A meteor hits the earth killing all the dinosaurs

And then there were none

The last of an extinct species dies

And then there was none ( the last one died )
And then there were none (of that species )

It depends on the group one wants to reference.

In Agatha Christie's book, there were ten people involved...

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The word none has both plural (“not any”) and singular (“not a single one”) sense. When none is followed by of, you need to look at the noun in your of phrase. If it is singular, use a singular verb, and vice versa. Most of the time, but not always, you will want to use a plural verb.

None of the children were/was hurt in the accident.

BUT: None of the food was (food is uncountable) left on the table.

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No, they aren't interchangeable.

In this case, "None" is actually plural, because it's being used as "not any."

"Were" is the plural form, while "was" is the singular, so "were" is used in this case.

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