Word Choice – None

BizWritingTip reader: “In a prior BizWritingTip, you wrote: ‘None of these mechanisms have the ability to improve our reading skills.’ Isn’t this an error in subject and verb agreement? Shouldn’t it be: none of these mechanisms has the ability”?

BizWritingTip response: In very formal writing, “none” takes a singular verb. However, in business writing, “none” is considered singular or plural, depending on the number of the noun to which it refers.

Because the word “mechanisms” is plural, I had to go with a plural verb.

Other Examples (Correct)

None of us want to attend.
None of his ideas were accepted.
None of her mail was answered.
None were hurt in the accident (meaning none of the drivers).

Other words that fall into the same category are some, more, most, any, and all. Again, these words may be considered singular or plural.


Most of the work is complete.
Some of the documents are ready for signature.

Isn’t English fun!