4

For example:

  1. No student goes to school today.
  2. No students go to school today.

When and why do I have to use singular and plural nouns following "No"?

4
  • Are you asking why or when you should use one form over the other?
    – zpletan
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 12:22
  • @zpletan: Yes. The question can be answered by explaining why and when each of them should be properly used. Commented May 7, 2012 at 12:27
  • Well, the question as asked is apparently not what you want to know, then. You should probably make the question more explicit. Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:43
  • To be honest, I can't think of any instances where the two aren't interchangeable. This is a distinction without a difference.
    – Robusto
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 14:05

1 Answer 1

6

I would say that the difference runs thus (based on my usage):

  • A plural form would be used for a collective decision or to stress a collective situation. No students go to school today implies that school has been cancelled for all students; perhaps it was a snow day or merely a weekend.

  • A singular form would be used for a collection of independent decisions, most often as the basis for personal action, or to stress an individual choice or mandate. No student goes to school today implies that each student has made the independent choice not to go to school today; I would most often see why should I? tacked onto the end of it.

7
  • How'd you arrive at that?
    – Kris
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 12:35
  • @Kris: I second zpletan's interpretation, though I would caution that the difference between these two wordings is very slight, more a degree of shade than meaning. Commented May 7, 2012 at 12:43
  • I don't see any interpretation -- only a conclusion -- which is why ask.
    – Kris
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 12:48
  • @Kris, I arrived at it by analyzing my own use of the two forms.
    – zpletan
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:21
  • We are expected to state why and explain that with how. cf. Your comment at OP and his response.
    – Kris
    Commented May 7, 2012 at 13:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.