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I have been teaching these and corrected the students.

I taught that none means zero.

The phrase in the book was:

How much did you pay?

I know the right answer is ... nothing, and not none, but I couldn't explain gramatically why.

Any ideas how I can explain this to them?
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AnonymousI taught that none means zero.
It is part of this set of grammatical particles: all, some/any, none. I guess they can be called "partitives", but I'm not sure.

How much did you pay? (=quantity)
Nothing. A lot. Too much. Two hundred dollars... etc.

How much of that money is actually yours?
Some. All. None. Most of it... etc.
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AnonymousI taught that none means zero.
True, but so does nothing. Emotion: smile

"What?" by itself (no noun after it) can be answered with "Nothing". It can't be answered with "None".

-- What have you read about the situation in Chicago?
-- Nothing. (Not None.)

-- What are you going to do about the dirty dishes?
-- Nothing. (Not None.)

"How much?" by itself can also be answered "Nothing", because "How much?" is often understood, in a way, as "What?" This is particularly true when money is concerned, though other situations may occur where "How much?" is like "What?".

How much did you spend? ~ What did you spend?
How much did it cost? ~ What did it cost?
How much are you willing to pay for this diamond-studded egg beater?
~ What are you willing to pay ...

So How much did you pay? (or its equivalent What did you pay?) is answered Nothing (Not None.)

CJ
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Comments  
Right or wrong, this is my take. Rather than being a question of grammar, I believe it is a matter of conceptual and syntactical interpreation. Whether using "none" or "nothing" as an answer is really depending on conceptual mindsets of the people engaged in the conversation.

Nothing - is the non-existenance of something, or things. It seems to me it suggests question of "what" and "how" as in "how much did he pay for this camera ?". A: "he paid almost nothing".
Whereas, "none" - suggest context to yes and no, or amount and quantity. None - truly mean zero. Do you have any experience in sales? No, I have none.
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Thanks a lot CJ. And to the others.

All helpful and will allow me to give a reason as to why we don't use none in these circumstances.

Mr Alan