Which" vs "That": Grammar Rules & Considerations

  • Thread starter Stephen Tashi
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It is widely asserted that none is equivalent to no one, and hence requires a singular verb and singular pronoun: None of the prisoners was given his soup."I agree with this statement.
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  • #3
"That is something, up with which, I will not put."
  • #4
Astronuc said:
An example of that which is to be considered. :D

No comma? "An example of that, which is to be considered."
  • #6
"Comma sprinklers" versus "non-comma sprinklers?" Isn't that getting off topic?
  • #7
I don't care (which is obvious from my posts) :D
  • #9
Stephen Tashi said:
"This" makes some good points. It's worth a read. However, it's completely wrong here:

Consider the explicit instruction: "With none, use the singular verb when the word means 'no one' or 'not one.'" Is this a rule to be trusted? Let's investigate.

  • Try searching the script of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) for "none of us." There is one example of it as a subject: "None of us are perfect" (spoken by the learned Dr. Chasuble). It has plural agreement.

  • Download and search Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). It contains no cases of "none of us" with singular-inflected verbs, but one that takes the plural ("I think that none of us were surprised when we were asked to see Mrs. Harker a little before the time of sunset").

  • Examine the text of Lucy Maud Montgomery's popular novel Anne of Avonlea (1909). There are no singular examples, but one with the plural ("None of us ever do").
It seems to me that the stipulation in Elements is totally at variance not just with modern conversational English but also with literary usage back when Strunk was teaching and White was a boy.

Is the intelligent student supposed to believe that Stoker, Wilde, and Montgomery didn't know how to write? Did Strunk or White check even a single book to see what the evidence suggested? Did they have any evidence at all for the claim that the cases with plural agreement are errors? I don't think so.

Pullum, the author of the article, is arguing something to the effect that Wilde, Stoker, and Montgomery couldn't have been in error in one matter because, if they had been, that would render them as not knowing how to write. There's a clear logical fallacy there. All people great in their field have flaws and sometimes err. No one is perfect. Those among great authors who have written the equivalent of "No one are perfect," have, in fact, made an error. That they are otherwise competent grammarians does not render the error correct, and neither does the fact they made an error demote them to being unable to write. Pullum's logical fallacy is a form of Appeal to Authority ('if these three authorities did it, it must be correct') compounded with the cognitive all-or-nothing fallacy ('but if they were in error here, then we must strip them of their authority and render them as not having known how to write'). That's an unpersuasive argument.

Worse is his asking us to accept that three examples constitutes the usage of the day. How many examples of correct usage could be found in all that literature that he didn't present?

"One" is singular. It doesn't get more singular. That's all the evidence one needs to know the cases with plural agreement are errors. So, when you write none in the sense of 'no one' or 'not one,' use the singular verb.
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  • #10
I don't know how authoritative the free dictionary is, but it says:

Usage Note: It is widely asserted that none is equivalent to no one, and hence requires a singular verb and singular pronoun: None of the prisoners was given his soup. It is true that none is etymologically derived from the Old English word ān, "one," but the word has been used as both a singular and a plural since the ninth century. The plural usage appears in the King James Bible ("All the drinking vessels of king Solomon were of gold ... none were of silver") as well as the works of canonical writers like Shakespeare, John Dryden, and Edmund Burke. It is widespread in the works of respectable writers today. Of course, the singular usage is perfectly acceptable. Choosing between singular or plural is thus more of a stylistic matter than a grammatical one. Both options are acceptable in this sentence: None of the conspirators has (or have) been brought to trial. When none is modified by almost, however, it is difficult to avoid treating the word as a plural: Almost none of the officials were (not was) interviewed by the committee. None is most often treated as plural in its use in sentences such as None but his most loyal supporters believe (not believes) his story. See Usage Notes at every, neither, nothing.
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  • #11
Stephen Tashi said:
I don't know how authoritative the free dictionary is, but it says:
I don't know how authoritative it is considered to be either, but the argument in what you quoted is more persuasive than Pullum's.
  • #12
That witch grammar is not going to stop me from expressing myself.

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