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8-27-2008 @ 1:24PM
You picked on his use of apostrophes, but yet posted a phrase like so:"none of the classes is done yet"Smooth.
8-27-2008 @ 1:27PM
8-27-2008 @ 1:30PM
On second thought, I was right. "None" means (and derives from) "not one" or "no one;" therefore, it makes sense to treat it as singular, and this is the customary practice (though many writers treat it as plural as well).
8-27-2008 @ 2:24PM
Actually, it's a little more complicated than that. "None" isn't singular. It also isn't plural. It refers to a concept that is not technically a number. The reason most people treat it as plural is because you are using it to refer to having nothing from a group of something. If there's only one thing available, you wouldn't say "I have none," you would say "I don't have it." Generally, the only time you use none is when the nothing you are referring to comes from a plural group, thus you say "None are" and not "None is."I don't actually know whether you should say "is" or "are," but that's why there's confusion.
8-27-2008 @ 3:24PM
" "None" means (and derives from) "not one" or "no one;" therefore, it makes sense to treat it as singular"Not really. For instance, "agenda" is the Latin plural of "agendum", but we all use it as singular. Spaghetti is also plural, so "a strand of spaghetti" should make no sense by that rationale.Usage rules based on etymology are prone to fail.
8-27-2008 @ 3:38PM
Heilig, you almost have it. "None" *is* singular (specifically, it's a singular pronoun); it's one of those rare words that doesn't have a plural. (Contrast to words whose singular and plural are identical, like "sheep" and "deer".) It dates back to Old Latin, where - like Eliah says - it was "noenum", a contraction of "ne" ("no, not") and "oenum" ("one").However, its etymology aside, "none" can be read in two ways: "not one" (in which case it takes a singular concordance) or "not any" (in which case it takes a plural concordance). A lot of authorities don't like the latter interpretation, but it's been attested for more than 300 years.All of which is to say that Eliah is right in using "none is".
8-27-2008 @ 3:40PM
In fairness, JR, your second example actually does work. It can easily be read as "a (single) strand (out) of (the multiple strands of) spaghetti", which makes the plural perfectly acceptable. (And although that's quite elided, we have plenty of other uses in English that do identical things.)
8-28-2008 @ 3:28AM
I'd personally take issue with the 'apostrophe abuse' part. The use of an apostrophe after an initialled abbreviation is perfectly acceptable, but over the past few years it has become a style choice not to have one. You could call it slightly old-fashioned, but it's not as if it is a greengrocer's apostrophe (apple's, pear's etc.).As for the other matter, whilst 'none of the classes is done yet can be shown to be technically correct (which some people would say is the best kind of correct), if the majority of people believe it to be wrong then you can be sure the construction is dying out.
8-28-2008 @ 8:29AM
Percinho, the arguments against apostrophizing acronyms aren't recent; the apologism for doing so is. Remember that speakers of English didn't really start using acronyms in earnest until WWII, and the early uses of plural acronyms overwhelmingly lacked the apostrophe.And yes, using an apostrophe to pluralize an acronym is precisely the sort of thing that "greengrocer's apostrophe" refers to.As for descriptivism vs. prescriptivism, even the ages won't settle that debate. There are arguments to be made for both sides, but here is almost certainly not the place to do it.
8-29-2008 @ 3:36AM
Ok, technicality first. PTR is not an acronym, and how speakers use them is completely irrelevant as to how they appear in the written language. Written and spoken language are very different beasts and the former rarely mirrors the latter."As for descriptivism vs. prescriptivism, even the ages won't settle that debate. There are arguments to be made for both sides, but here is almost certainly not the place to do it." Now that we can agree on. Suffice to say that there are no Keepers of The English Language, no matter how the Language Mavens like to view themselves.
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