Uses of None as various parts of speech

In this article, we will see:

  • the various ways ‘none’ can function in a sentence.
  • the various sentence structures/patterns involving ‘none’
  • various use cases of ‘none’, including some dos and don’ts.

None as various parts of speech

‘None’ can function as:

  • a pronoun,
  • an adverb.

I looked around for some water, but there was none. (none – pronoun)
He was pushed none too gently against the wall by the police officer. (none – adverb)

None as a Pronoun

Pattern 1

None is the pronoun form of ‘no’.

When working as a pronoun, ‘None’ is used to refer to:

  • not any
  • not one (nobody)
  • not part of a group of people/things.
When working as an adverb, ‘None’ means not at all or to no extent.

We can use ’none’ to refer to either countable and uncountable nouns. Also, it can work as a subject or as an object in a sentence.

We brainstormed for new ideas for about an hour. None came to mind. (none – subject, referring to uncountable noun idea)

You have three brothers. I have none. (none – object, referring to countable noun brothers)

When ‘none’ is the subject of a sentence, it can take singular or plural verb.

None of his colleagues lives nearby. (lives – singular verb)
None of the chairs were broken. (were – plural verb)

In formal contexts, singular verb is preferred with ‘none’.

However, when ‘none’ means ‘not part of a whole’, then we definitely use singular verb.

None of this is mine. (is – singular verb)

Pattern 2: None of

None of my students can do this. (none – pronoun)

We use none + of before:

  • Possessives (e.g. his, their, your)
    None of your kittens are eating.

  • Demonstratives (e.g. this, these, that, those)
    None of these kittens are eating.

  • Article ‘the’

When referring to two things/people, we use ‘neither of’ rather than ‘none of’:

My husband and I saw a bank being robbed today. But none of us did anything. (incorrect)
My husband and I saw a bank being robbed today. But neither of us did anything. (correct)

Uses of None

We often use ‘none’ in following ways:

Use 1

If there is a negative word in a sentence/clause, we do not use ‘none’.

He doesn’t care for none of us. (incorrect)
He doesn’t care for any of us. (correct)

Use 2

‘None’ doesn’t work as an adjective. So, we never use it just before a noun. Rather we use:

  • no + noun or
  • none of + noun

No student in my class talked during the break. (correct; student - noun)
None of the students in my class talked during the break. (correct; students - noun)
None student in my class talked during the break. (incorrect)

None vs No one and Nobody

‘Nobody’ means “no person” or “not anyone.” It works as a singular indefinite pronoun.
Nobody was there to greet the guests. (was – singular verb)

The meaning of ‘No one’ is the same as ‘Nobody.“ It also works as a singular indefinite pronoun.
No one was there to greet the guests. (was – singular verb)

‘No one’ and ‘Nobody are practically interchangeable. It’s just that, ‘No one’ is preferred in writing as it is considered more formal than ‘Nobody’.

Difference 1

As compared to ‘no one’ or ‘nobody’, the usage of ‘none’ is considered more formal.

Difference 2

‘No one’ and ‘Nobody’ are considered singular pronouns and so we use singular verb with it. ‘None’ may take singular or plural verb.

No one knows when this rain will stop. (correct; knows – singular verb)
Nobody knows when this rain will stop. (correct; knows – singular verb)
None know(s) when this rain will stop. (correct; can use know or knows)

Difference 3

In case of uncountable nouns we use ‘none’. We cannot use ‘no one’ here, because ‘one’ in ‘no one’ is a numeral.

None of the food was left. (correct)
No one of the food was left. (incorrect)

Difference 4

‘No one’ and ‘Nobody’ always refer to people, and not inanimate objects.
‘None’ may refer to people or things.

Extra Books and Tools

Though the matter on our website is in-depth and comprehensive enough for the needs of most of the aptitude exams, but it may also feel daunting for the same reasons. Moreover, some learners prefer books over websites. So, if you are a beginner level English learner, and prefer books, you may explore the following English Grammar books too.

1. Wren & Martin - This book has been around for long and is still considered one of the best. Though many concepts have not been dealt with in much depth here, but beginners may find it a breeze to read. Once you are done with it, the content on our website will work as a rich add-on. If you are getting this book, make sure you get the key to its exercises too.

Link for Indian readers: Wren and Martin

2. More advanced learners may refer to the following books. However, buy them only if you must. Most of your English Grammar learning needs will easily be met by our website.

Essential English Grammar by Raymond Murphy
Link for Indian readers: Essential English Grammar

Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy
Link for Indian readers: Intermediate English Grammar

Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings
Link for Indian readers: Advanced English Grammar

So much so for Englsh Grammar. But what about Comprehension skills and Vocabulary?

We strongly believe that Comprehension skills and Vocabulary are more a matter of practice. The more you read, the better you will become in them. In fact, this will help you in Grammar too. Afterall Grammar rules are just in the nature of temporary scaffholding - the goal is to read, write and speak a language without consciously remembering even a single Grammar rule.

So, we suggest you to read vividly. Ideally, carry some tool with you that you may refer to learn the meaning of any word that is new to you. There are many ways you may go about it.

* The old method: Carry a good dictionary with you. But who does?

* Download a Thesauraus app on your mobile or just google it. Better, but we still need to stop reading, open app, type and then search. Boring!

The methods mentioned above kill the joy of reading. Who wants to stop reading in the midst of an interesting plot and look for the meaning of a word? And if you are a lazy soul like me, oh man! No chance!

That's why I prefer to read on gadgets like Kindle. We may just tap on any word and see its meaning there and then. It's also not taxing on the eyes.

If you guys know about any more such books, gadgets and technologies that are awesome and may help English learners, do share 😇
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