Can someone please tell me which is most appropriate?

(a) "At this time, none of the parties is planning to file a motion"; or

(b) "At this time, none of the parties are planning to file a motion."


Either is correct, although I was taught that "None is" is more appropriate in legal proceedings, where every word matters. After subsequently reading Jon Hanna's excellent analysis in answer to a similar question on EL&U, I can only conclude that what I was taught is not correct. I encourage you to read his answer, which concludes that both uses are equally appropriate in any setting, with a few exceptions as noted. See: "None" as plural indefinite pronoun for his answer.

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  • You could also simply use the present tense of the verb: "...none of the parties plans to file a motion." – Tim Ward Jan 18 '16 at 23:11
  • 2
    I think you need to explain why being a legal matter has anything to do with it. – Jim Jan 18 '16 at 23:14
  • Why is "none is" more formal than "none are"? – Peter Shor Jan 18 '16 at 23:35
  • @PeterShor Might be within a legal context because there might be a hoard of prescriptivist proofreaders instructed to change are to is under such circumstances ... :( – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jan 19 '16 at 0:05
  • Please see my edited answer. I apologize to anyone I've misled. – Mark Hubbard Jan 19 '16 at 0:06

None "is." That's the only correct answer. This is a common error. None means "not one," clearly singular. Read it as "Not one is planning to file.." and it becomes obvious.

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None stands for "not one"; thus the only correct way to use it here would be none is. As attested by this quote from Lord Byron's Don Juan:

In Seville was he born, a pleasant city,
Famous for oranges and women—he
Who has not seen it will be much to pity,
So says the proverb—and I quite agree;
Of all the Spanish towns is none more pretty,
Cadiz perhaps—but that you soon may see;
Don Juan's parents lived beside the river,
A noble stream, and call'd the Guadalquivir.

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