By Sarah Binning

The idea to begin a grammar blog began a little more than a week ago, after reading an online article in my Monster.com newsletter. The headline really sealed the deal for me: “Writing Mistakes that Make You Look Dumb.” I was hooked in by my rather geeky sense of humor.

One of my favorite mistakes mentioned was number 9: None is. (Never none ARE.)

I made a mental note to dedicate a blog entry to “none” and other commonly abused singular words. My intention was to write this entry yesterday. Yet somehow I spent the evening crocheting a Christmas Granny square afghan. (Yes, I am aware of the fact that I act like a 80-year-old grandmother. What’s next?  Want to come over and bake cookies? I’ll wear an apron and let you lick the bowl. Anyway, I digress).

Feeling guilty about my lack of entry yesterday, I awoke early to research the word “none.”

Long story short: none IS singular.

Examples:

None was hurt during this experiment.  None of the girls was able to come today.

How can this be? It SOUNDS so incorrect. Colloquial habits damaged our ability to hear grammar mistakes. It sounds wrong because we say it wrong everyday.

While this might not be horribly exciting news to you, my research proved rather interesting.

When examining the etymology (or root origins) of the word, I discovered that “none” is derived from the singular phrase “not one.” So what originated as the contraction no’ne (not one) eventually dropped the apostrophe and became “none.”

(Isn’t the history of language fascinating? Maybe I should have gone into linguistics … Oh well, it’s a little too late to change my degree now.)

So what other words take singular verbs?

  1. When the adjectives each, every, many a, more than one, either and neither precede a singular or compound subject, they take singular verbs.

1a. More than one parent disagrees with Mrs. Draxler’s teaching methods.

1b. Every student enjoys snow cancellations.

2. Indefinite pronouns (with a few exceptions) require singular verbs and singular personal pronouns.

2a. Allow me to name a few indefinite pronouns: another, anybody, anything, each one, everyone, everything, nobody, no one, somebody, something.

2b. Everyone is waiting for the game to begin.

2c. Somebody laughs at all my jokes.

3. Title of businesses books, movies, TV shows, poems, short stories and songs take singular verbs. Don’t let the titles fool you. Although they may appear plural, they function as one singular entity.

3a. Jurassic Park is the best book I’ve read this year.

3b. Bad Romance was on the radio a moment ago.

3c. LOST is on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. LOST is the single greatest TV show in the history of television.

3d. McDonalds McDonald’s is the fastest growing food chain in the world. (NOTE: I have not idea if this sentence is TRUE. I made it up to illustrate the proper use of company names as a singular verb-taking entity.

3e. Ghostbusters is playing on a TBS marathon this weekend.

While the list for words that take singular verbs is seemingly endless, I think I’ll leave them for another day.  Nothing is more important than allowing you brain to digest this information.  (See what I did there? Kudos to me for inserting another cleaver example of a singular word: Nothing IS.)

Tomorrow we’ll examine words that take plural verbs.



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