Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue Apr 17 09:00:50 UTC 2001

>"None of the shark attacks in Florida have involved people on shark- feeding
>expeditions, though one woman in the Keys was bitten on the calf last year
>by a nurse shark after crew members on a boat tossed scraps of fish into the
>Would it sound stilted to write "none of the shark attacks in Florida has

No. Either is fine [although one might prefer to use "expedition" instead
of "expeditions" etc. for 'notional concordance']. "None" is either
singular or plural, and the grammaticality is not generally affected by the
word's modifiers IMHO. One conceives of "none" = "no attack" and uses
"has", or one conceives of "none" = "no attacks" and uses "have".

In some cases there may be some limitation (but not in the above); the
limitation will depend on what "none" is conceived as equivalent to. (^_^)

"None of these men is tall enough" OR "None of these men are tall enough"
BUT "None of these men is the tallest man in town". ["None" = "no man", "no
men", "no man"]

"None of my shirts has been cleaned" OR "None of my shirts have been
cleaned" BUT "None of my trousers have been cleaned". ["None" = "no shirt",
"no shirts", "no trousers"]

"None of the potatoes is ready" OR "None of the potatoes are ready" BUT
"None of the rice is ready". ["None" = "no potato", "no potatoes", "no rice"]

No doubt there are many borderline cases. I would find "I ordered some
scissors, but none has arrived" problematic, since it would seem to imply
"none" = "no scissor"; but I would find "I ordered some pairs of scissors,
but none has arrived" less difficult, with "none" = "no pair [of scissors]"
... although in a sense there's no grammatical difference between these two
with respect to the role of "none" in the final clause. Of course, each
person has his own tastes, too.

-- Doug Wilson

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