P2052 at AOL.COM P2052 at AOL.COM
Tue Apr 17 14:10:14 UTC 2001

A number of the older grammar books/style manuals claim that either
In The Complete Stylist and Handbook, 3rd ed. (1984), Sheridan acknowledges
both a singular and a plural usage; however, he embraces the singular sense
of none:  "None of them are, of course is very common.  From Shakespeare's
time to ours, it has persisted alongside the more precise none of them is,
which seems to have the edge in careful prose, since it follows the structure
of English, matching singular with singular" (354).  He cites the following
                   FAULTY:  None of these men are failures.
                   REVISED:  None of these men is a failure.
                   FAULTY:  None of the class, even those best prepared, want
the test.
                   REVISED:  None of the class, even those best prepared,
wants the
Note that these uses of none are the equivalent of not one.  In The Elements
of Grammar  (1986), Sherzer claims that either usage is acceptable, depending
on the sense (singular or plural) intended.  Sherzer adds:  "The modern
tendency is to consider none as plural except when it is equivalent to not or
no one, in which case she recommends that not or no one be used (21).  Ebest
et. al., in Wrting From A to Z, 2d ed. [1997, 1994],  write:  None is
singular with mass nouns, but either the singular or the plural is generally
acceptable with count nouns (57). The minimal pairs cited are the following:
              None of the books are shelved correctly.
              None of the books is shelved correctly.
While agreeing about the singular use of none when it refers to a mass noun,
other references either avoid the subject completely or are relatively vague
when discussing none in the context of count nouns. None of the references
examined, however, echo Sherzer's view that none is either singular or plural
in the context of count nouns.  Rather, most imply that none  is exclusively
singular in that context (See Norwood & Selby's Essential College English, 2d
ed. [1987]; In A Pocket Style Manual, 3rd ed. [2000], Hacker writes the
following:  A few indefinite pronouns (all, any, some, [and, certainly, none
]) may be singular or plural depending on the noun or pronoun they refer to
(23). Kirszner & Mandell (The Pocket Holt Handbook [2000], agree, adding that
"a few indefinite pronouns--some. all, any, more, most,  and none--can be
singular or plural, depending on the noun they refer to" (26).  Other modern
grammar/style books also espouse this view (See Lunsford's The Everyday Writer
 [2001]; Hult & Huckin's The New Century Handbook [1999]; Heffernan &
Lincoln's Writing: A Concise Handbook [1997]; andYarber & Yarber's  Reviewing
Basic Grammar, 4th ed.[1997].)

It appears that the variable usage, wherein count nouns can be either
singular or plural, is pre-1986.

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