Here we go

Just a few hours since this morning’s post about time-wasting distinctions, and comments are beginning to arrive.

I’ll respond as I have time — I’m at home at the moment but will be taking the tiller at the copy desk this evening. (For budgetary reasons, we had to let go the man in the leather vest who beats cadence for the oarsmen, so I’m stepping in.) And once we have a fair store of submissions, I’ll repeat the original post, incorporating all the additions.

From Andy Bechtel:

Because vs. since? Interchangeable?


From Loretta:

After reading your column for nearly two years and countless other explanations over at least that time, I still don't understand the difference between "none is" and "none are." In your example, "None of the candlesticks is broken; none of the candlesticks have been polished," it's clear that "not one is broken" and "not any have been polished." But how would it be different to say "not any are broken" or "not one has been polished"? Is it merely a difference in emphasis? Thanks for any additional light (candle or otherwise) you can shed.

You have, in fact, grasped the distinction perfectly. The choice between singular and plural senses depends entirely on the meaning the speaker/writer intends, and your paraphrase shows that you have no difficulty in interpreting it.

Try this example. It’s a crisp October morning. I have my coffee. I’ve finished reading The Sun (long may it wave) and have taken up my book, when Kathleen comes into the room and says, “The neighbors’ oaks are dropping leaves by the bushel into your yard, and none have been raked yet.” Not any leaves have been raked. I murmur something polite and open my book.

Repeat the setting, two days later. As I reach for my book, Kathleen comes into the living room and says, “I told you about those leaves two days ago, and none has been touched.” Not a single one has been touched. With a gentle sigh, I put down my book and get my jacket from the closet. Next fall I’m hiring somebody. The gutters are clogged, too.



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