Is “None” Singular or Plural? None Is or Are?

Summary

None may be either singular or plural, depending on whether you mean “not one” or “not any.” To negate a reference for individual people or things, use a singular verb; for an entire group, use a plural verb.

Examples
  • Singular: None of them is ready.
    to refer to each of them
    Plural: None of them are ready.
    to refer to all of them
  • Singular: None of us has the answer.
    to emphasize that not one of them has the answer
    Plural: None of us have the answer.
    to emphasize that the entire group doesn’t have the answer
  • Singular: This action requires a network key; none is available.
    not a single one available
    Plural: We need four specialists. None are available.
    not any available

When none means “no part of,” it is singular.

Example
  • None of the food is/are ready.

None: Singular or plural?

The pronoun none may be either singular or plural, depending on the meaning and emphasis you wish to convey. It can mean “not one,” “not any,” or “no part of.”

Examples
  • Singular: None of us is interested in watching this movie.
    “not one” of us
  • Plural: None of the scientists know what happened.
    “not any” of the group
  • Singular: None of the report is written.
    “no part of” the report
  • Singular: None is above the law.
    “no one”
  • Plural: I just checked the status of these orders. None have been shipped yet.
    “not any”

It is sometimes thought that the word none, because it means “no one,” must be treated as singular. But as we have seen, none does not just mean “no one,” but also “not any.” In this second meaning, it can be used with plural verbs like are and have.

None as singular

When none means “not one,” “no one,” or “no person,” it takes singular verbs like is and has.

Examples
  • None of us is perfect.
    no one among us
  • None of the answers is correct.
    not one of the answers
  • You need to speak with one of our specialists. Unfortunately, none is available until May.
    not a single one
  • None of them has the answer.
  • None of the solutions we offered works.
  • None of these shirts fits me.
  • None of my friends is here.

None can also be used with singular nouns to mean “no part of.”

Examples
  • None of my work is finished.
    no part of my work
  • None of what he says is true.
    no part of what he says
  • None of the packing is done.

None as plural

None is used with plural verbs like are and have when it means “not any.” It then conveys a sense of the plural and refers to the group as a whole.

Examples
  • None of the actors are ready for the performance.
    not any of the actors
  • I put all my old books up for auction: none have sold.
  • None of us have our lines.
Note

Some people believe that the only meaning of none is “no one” and that the word cannot be used with plural verbs. This understanding is incorrect. In fact, when followed by a plural noun, none is often used with a plural verb (None of us are ready).

Differences in meaning

When none is followed by a plural form (e.g., none of the students, none of us, none of them), plural verbs like are and have are the more natural choice. Use a plural verb to mark plurality and refer to more than one person.

Examples
  • None of us are at work yet.
    “Not any” of us, referring to the entire team. We could also say, “None of us is at work.” This would emphasize that “no single person” is at work yet.
  • None of her stories are true.
  • None of them know how to use this application.

But when you want to emphasize the individuals in the group, use singular verbs like is and has.

Examples
  • None of us is wrong.
    nobody among us
  • None of the hotels is open.
    not one of the hotels
  • None of them knows how to use this application.
    no one knows
Note

Using a singular verb like is when none is followed by a plural form (none of the students is . . .) can sound overly formal in everyday speech, where the plural verb (none of the students are . . .) is more common.

To mean “no part of,” always use the singular verb.

Examples
  • None of this is/are real.
  • None of the ceiling is/are painted yet, but the walls are done.

Examples from literature

Here are some examples from literature of none used with singular and plural verbs. Note how none can mean “not one” or “not any,” depending on context.

Examples
  • Plural: Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
    W.H. Auden, “Reading,” The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays (1962)
  • Plural: None of our beliefs are quite true; all have at least a penumbra of vagueness and error.
    Bertrand Russell, Free Thought and Official Propaganda (1922)
  • Plural: Where’s your common sense? None of those books agree with each other.
    Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
  • Singular: If one State may secede, so may another; and when all shall have seceded none is left to pay the debts.
    Abraham Lincoln, Fourth of July Address to Congress (1861)
  • Singular: Later he told me other versions of it as though trying them for use in a novel, but none was as sad as this first one . . .
    Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast (1964)
  • Singular: None of us lives in the light . . .
    John Updike, In The Beauty of The Lilies (1996)
  • Singular: None of us is exempt from sin.
    Margaret Atwood, The Testaments (2019)

Quick Quiz

Which is correct?
Choose from these answers
All done!
Which is correct?
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All done!
In which of these does the word none refer to a single person?
Choose from these answers
All done!
In which of these does the word none refer to the entire group?
Choose from these answers
All done!

Did You Know?

When each is part of a plural subject, it is used with plural verbs.
Know more:Is “Each” Singular or Plural? How to Use “Each” Correctly