The Free Dictionary  
mailing list For webmasters
Welcome Guest Forum Search | Active Topics | Members

Which reads better: was or were? Options
Parpar1836
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:04:18 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/2014
Posts: 290
Neurons: 10,023
Location: Rochester, New York, United States
Let me apologize in advance for posting a topic that has been quite well answered in previous posts. I'm in a hurry, so am taking a shortcut.

Which of these sentences is grammatically better? Which makes more sense?

None of the valuables, so far as I can tell, was insured.

None of the valuables, so far as I can tell, were insured.


Thanks!
Elorac
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 5:26:50 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/22/2014
Posts: 341
Neurons: 213,613
Location: London, England, United Kingdom


I'd say 'were'

A day without laughter... is a day wasted :-)
NKM
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 7:39:50 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 4,875
Neurons: 264,619
Location: Corinth, New York, United States
Elorac wrote:


I'd say 'were'


I agree.

  "Were any of the valuables insured?"
  "No. None of them were."


RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 10:03:36 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/2/2009
Posts: 5,076
Neurons: 50,755
Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
Parpar1836 wrote:
Let me apologize in advance for posting a topic that has been quite well answered in previous posts. I'm in a hurry, so am taking a shortcut.

Which of these sentences is grammatically better? Which makes more sense?

None of the valuables, so far as I can tell, was insured.

None of the valuables, so far as I can tell, were insured.


Thanks!

It depends upon what you are emphasizing. In this case, "none" is being used as "not any (of the valuables)" and plural is most appropriate. If you use it as a substitute for "not one" or "no one", then singular is the verb you choose.

So, close to your example, if you wished to emphasize the not-a-single-one aspect, then you'd say "None of the valuables (at all) was recovered." As you can probably see, this kind of emphasis doesn't work with your original sentence, in which the "so far as I can tell" adds an element of doubt. That element causes the sentence to consider all of the valuables together.

Whew! How's that for a lot more than you probably wanted to know?
Parpar1836
Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2018 2:18:58 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/30/2014
Posts: 290
Neurons: 10,023
Location: Rochester, New York, United States
Thanks, Elorac, NKM, and RuthP!

The sample sentence is for a monthly feature in DEAF LIFE, to help readers who are confused or curious about written English. It includes a new vocabulary word, with etymology, definition, and context sentences, and a Q/A feature focusing on commonly confused words. The upcoming words are ensure and insure.

Even though I have several English textbooks, including a Quirk & Greenbaum, there are times I like to ask the experts at TFD. There's nothing quite like a personal response. Even Quirk & Greenbaum have had me clutching my head at times.

I agree with you that were does seem to be a better choice.
Users browsing this topic
Guest


Forum Jump
You cannot post new topics in this forum.
You cannot reply to topics in this forum.
You cannot delete your posts in this forum.
You cannot edit your posts in this forum.
You cannot create polls in this forum.
You cannot vote in polls in this forum.

Main Forum RSS : RSS
Forum Terms and Guidelines | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2008-2018 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.