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Which is correct?
* "There are no comments."
* "There is no comment."

Which would you use for a web application, i.e. what to display when a blog post or an article has no comment attached?

Actually, I am trying to fix an application that says: "There is no comments" ! Would that ever be right??

More generally speaking, it feels wrong to have a plural after the negative no/none or with the preposition "without" (see my previous question). Those words imply zero, i.e. less than 1, while plural is 2 or more. Yet, I know that phrases like "There are no comments." or "He is without friends." are common. It seems illogical to me.

Are the majority of people making a grammar mistake when using such expressions, or else can you explain why this is correct?

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"Is" and "comments" combination will always be wrong :) –  Nick May 23 '11 at 14:55
    
For a minute there I was worried you were criticizing the pluralization of Stack Exchange messages. –  Andrew Grimm Jun 14 '11 at 10:01
1  
I'm still trying to get my head around the implication that whoever created the app OP is trying to fix must have gone to the trouble of recognising the condition number of comments = 0, in order to apply his garbled notion of "correct" display text. I don't care if messages like this adopt the standard format There are x comments and just substitute 0, 1, 392 or whatever for "x". Programmers should have better things to do with their time - such as writing code that works reliably, rather than encapsulates the finer points of English syntax. –  FumbleFingers Jan 3 '12 at 18:32

4 Answers 4

up vote 26 down vote accepted

"No comments" is correct, and this construction is common in English. For example, we get singular agreement for number for the value of 1, and plural agreement for anything else.

  • 5 pizzas
  • 1.5 pizzas
  • 1 pizza
  • 0.5 pizzas
  • 0 pizzas

This extends to "no" as well.

Using "no" combined with a singular is possible, but implies that there would only be either one of that thing, or nothing. This is much more rare (though it comes up from time to time). You might read in the newspaper, "When asked about the situation, the press secretary had no comment." Here it is singular because you either have a comment about a matter, or you don't. If you say a lot of things, it is still considered one comment (at least in the journalistic sense of the word).

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Which would you use for a web application, i.e. what to display when a blog post or an article has no comment attached?

I would use there are no comments. As far as I can see, in such cases the plural form is preferred.

  • There are no menu links yet.
  • There are currently no styles.
  • There are currently no effects in this style.
  • There are no fields yet added.

The only cases where it's used the singular noun is in sentences like:

  • There is currently no content classified with this term.
  • There is not enough memory available to PHP to change this theme's color scheme.
  • There is no new syndicated content from the site.

Projects by kiamlaluno

Actually, I am trying to fix an application that says: "There is no comments" ! Would that ever be right??

There is no comments is not correct. There must be an agreement between the verb and the subject / object. In the same way you don't say there are no cow, you don't say there is no comments.

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The phrase:*"The only cases where it's used the singular noun is in sentences like"* is poorly worded and, ironically, has a verb-agreement error. It ought to read The only cases where the singular noun is used are in sentences like: –  Mari-Lou A Oct 3 at 5:43

These are all suitable for a website:

There is one comment.
There are two comments.
There is half a comment.
There are 0.5 comments.
There are no comments.

If you think of comment in the case there is no comment as being short for commentary then you will find it easier to understand how it works and what it means.

"There is no comments" is not correct in any situation where comments is the plural of comment. There is no news, however, is correct because there is no singular version of news.

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Generally, you would say :

There are no comments.

But if you are talking about something that you would only expect one of, you would say is no. For example, if you were complaining to your paper delivery service, you would say:

There is no newspaper in my driveway today.

An extreme example of this is:

There was no moon that night.

Nobody says "there were no moons that night" … you would have to be on another planet for this to make sense.

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protected by tchrist May 1 '13 at 15:00

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