Does the word 'none' take a singular or plural verb? Does it depend on what follows (object of preposition)? Does the object of the preposition, instead of the true subject 'none,' determine the verb here?

None of them are going.
None of the students were going.

None of the pies were eaten.
None of the pie was eaten.

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Comments  (Page 2) 
None is a shortened form of Not one, so should strictly take a singular verb: Not one of them is going. Not one of the students is going. Not one of the pies was eaten. In actual usage, however, the plural form is far more common, which in my view makes it perfectly acceptable in all but the most formal situations.
 BarbaraPA's reply was promoted to an answer.
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I prefer to give a simple rule called M+H+Q rule

H stands for Modifier
H stands for head word
Q stands for qualifier.

The basic rule is, if a group of words acts as a noun, only the HEAD WORD will influence the verb.
So, in the given example there is no modifier. There is a headword ( None) and a qualifier ( of them).
It should read -------- None of them is / was/has etc.
Just consider that there is no 'of them'. What will you use? None ----------- is/ was/ has etc, won't you?

It will be rather ungrammatical to say None-------------- are/ were/have.
People may have different view, but in strict grammatical term, the rule is non-negotiable.
Please feel free to comment

Prof. Mohamed Ali.

I am not a native speaker nor am I a European / American but an Indian and educator of ESL in South East Asia.
Please note the modern view, Professor Ali:

Usage Note:
It is widely asserted that none is equivalent to no one, and hence requires a singular verb and singular pronoun: None of the prisoners was given his soup. It is true that none is etymologically derived from the Old English wordn, "one," but the word has been used as both a singular and a plural noun from Old English onward. The plural usage appears in the King James Bible as well as the works of John Dryden and Edmund Burke and is widespread in the works of respectable writers today. Of course, the singular usage is perfectly acceptable. The choice between a singular or plural verb depends on the desired effect. Both options are acceptable in this sentence: None of the conspirators has (or have) been brought to trial. When none is modified by almost, however, it is difficult to avoid treating the word as a plural: Almost none of the officials were (not was) interviewed by the committee. None can only be plural in its use in sentences such as None but his most loyal supporters believe (not believes) his story.
We were always taught in school that "none" takes a singular verb (None of them is/has...). Later, we found that as a question even in various editorial tests of publishing houses, where a candidate is supposed to change the plural verb to singular.

However, in the wake of various different opinions (a convincing one saying "none" is NOT NECESSARILY "not one"), we had to drop that question from our test. One opinion is that the choice of verb depends upon whether the noun is countable or uncountable. So, for students (countable) in the class that went missing, one would say "none of them were in the class!" but for milk (uncountable) it would be "None of the milk has gone bad."

I follow that rule now and have unlearned the "none should always take a singular verb" rule. It sounds easy and correct. If I said "None of us here is sure of the rule" everybody except that oh-I'm-so-smart editor will cringe.

"None of us here are sure of the rule" gets our vote.

Oracle University
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I forgot to add... "none" is most popularly used in the sense of "not any," in which case it can take a plural verb.

Not any of them were in the class. (None of them were in the class.)
Hello. How about "none of them are easy" or "none of them is easy"? And if it is past tense, was or were should we use?
Anonymous How about "none of them are easy" or "none of them is easy"? And if it is past tense, was or were should we use?
Please re-read this thread. There is no difference in usage among present, past and future.
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