A specter is haunting English usage—the specter of the singular none. No one knows who set abroad the notion that none could only be singular, but abroad it is. Howard 1980 says, "A considerable number of readers of The Times are convinced beyond reason that the pronoun none is singular only"; Burchfield 1981 notes that listeners to the BBC are similarly convinced. The notion is not restricted to Britain: Mary Vaiana Taylor, in an article titled "The Folklore of Usage" in American Speech (April 1974), says that 60 percent of the graduate teaching assistants she surveyed marked none with a plural verb wrong in students' papers. William Safire, in the New York Times Magazine (1 Apr. 1984), mentions several correspondents who have written in protest of his "Obviously, none of these previous noun usages offer a clue...."
The origin of the notion is simple enough to discover—the etymology of the word. Lounsbury 1908 supposed that "some student of speech" thought it to be a contraction of no one. Actually, the etymology explanation is at least as old as Lindley Murray 1795. Murray, after recording that "None is used in both numbers" goes on to observe, "It seems originally to have signified, according to its derivation, not one, and therefore to have had no plural...." Murray is, in fact, only half right here. The Old English nan "none" was in fact formed from ne "not" and an "one," but Old English nan was inflected for both singular and plural. Hence it never has existed in the singular only; King Alfred the Great used it as a plural as long ago as a.d. 888. And even Murray concludes his observation by saying, "but there is good authority for the use of it in the plural number," and he quotes the Bible, Milton, Bishop Lowth, and rhetorician Hugh Blair.
We will probably never know who transformed Lindley Murray's etymological explanation into a law of usage and spread it about widely. Lounsbury could not identify the culprit and neither can we. All the sources since Murray that we have read and all those we have seen cited recognize plural use to some degree, even though they may quibble over details.
And direct evidence is hard to find. Our earliest and most straightforward example comes from the Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette-Times, sometime in October 1917 (we are unsure of the exact date, as the piece is reprinted in The Oregonian for 26 Oct. 1917). In it the Corvallis editorialist takes The Oregonian to task for saying, apparently in reply to a letter, that none generally takes the plural verb, but that either singular or plural is right.
... but how "none," even though it may be plural in "sense," can escape its strict grammatical meaning of "no one," can escape taking a singular verb, is beyond the ken of strict construction, which should certainly prevail in matters of grammar. If there is any word in the English language that should be singular it should be "one."
So we do have evidence that belief in the strictly singular nature of none was alive in one editorial office over seventy years ago. Unfortunately, this editorialist vitiated his remarks by writing earlier in his editorial:
... there have been many questions of grammar asked The Oregonian, and none of them have been answered correctly.
Once again, precept has come a cropper in practice.
However difficult it may be to say how this notion got started, we can find a number of adherents to it. Bierce 1909 appears to have been very unhappy with the stubborn insistence of popular usage that none is a plural when it refers to numbers rather than quantity. Gowers 1948 asked, "If reason is to prevail, for instance, what could be more obvious than that none, which is even less than one, cannot possibly take a plural verb ... ?" Fennell 1980 tells us that none usually takes a singular verb (and gives only a singular example) and Simon 1980 finds fault with Barbara Walters for writing or saying "none are snobs."
Occasionally a commentator will have second thoughts, however. Strunk & White 1959 says that none "Takes the singular verb." The second edition (1972) allows for the plural verb "when none suggests more than one thing or person." This is illustrated wryly: "None are as fallible as those who are sure they're right." The third edition (1979) continues the second edition's line.
Most commentators, however, admit both singular and plural use. A number of them look for a basis for case-by-case decision. Sellers 1975, for instance, advises the singular verb when none means "no quantity," "no one," or "not one," and the plural verb when it means "not any," "no people," or "no things." Others will tell you that the plural is more common or the singular is more common, and still others will count up instances and try to get a statistical grip on the problem, perhaps with an eye to discerning trends.
Evidence in the Merriam-Webster files, all gathered in the 20th century, shows no trends. The possible effect of editorial opinion can occasionally be found: we have a pretty long run of Time citations that are mostly singular, and about as long a run from the New Yorker that are mostly plural. It appears that writers generally make it singular or plural according to whatever their idea is when they write. This matching of verb (or referring pronoun) to a pronoun by sense, rather than formal grammatical number, is known as notional agreement (see notional agreement, notional concerd and the various articles at agreement).
For instance, when none is followed by an of phrase containing a plural noun or pronoun, you might expect the plural verb to be more natural, as in the Bible's
But none of these things move me —Acts 20:24 (AV), 1611
Our evidence, however, shows both the singular and plural verbs:
How comes it, I wonder, that none of our scholars has written a monograph on him —Norman Douglas, Siren Land, 1911
None of these are love letters in the conventional sense —W. H. Auden, New Yorker, 19 Mar. 1955
None of its inhabitants expects to become a millionaire —Bernard DeVoto, Holiday, July 1955
None of the lines are strikingly brilliant —Wolcott Gibbs, New Yorker, 5 Mar. 1955
None of them is happily married today —Judith Krantz, Cosmopolitan, October 1976
... when none of us in the West... have a very clear idea of where we are going —Edward Crankshaw, N.Y. Times Mag., 30 Nov. 1975
Or perhaps you might think that none is more likely to take a singular verb when it butts right up against its verb. But here, too, both singular and plural are used:
While some were poor, none was rich —John Kenneth Galbraith, The Scotch, 1964
... when every dog howls at the locked door, and none go to their homes till the waning of the moon —Sacheverell Sitwell, The Dance of the Quick and the Dead, 1936
None is thought to have a distinguished prose style —Jane Tompkins, Sensational Designs, 1985
None were deeper in that labyrinthine ambition — G. K. Chesterton, reprinted in The Pocket Book of Father Brown, 1946
And if, among this wealth of possibilities, none seems exactly right —Barnard 1979
... and none say they read poetry for fun —James Sledd, in Greenbaum 1985
Clearly, then, none takes a singular verb when the writer thinks of it as singular, and plural when the writer thinks of it as plural. Perhaps the best evidence for this observation is found in examples from writers who use none sometimes as a singular and sometimes as a plural:
None of them seems cast specifically in the role of "thinker" —Tom Wicker, N. Y. Times Mag., 3 May 1964
None of those statements are particularly disputable —Tom Wicker, N. Y. Times Mag., 3 May 1964
... none of these sites has produced evidence of plant gathering —Edward P. Lanning, Peru Before the Incas, 1967
None of the inland camps have yet been excavated —Edward P. Lanning, Peru Before the Incas, 1967
None of them were trying to learn how to write —A. J. Liebling, New Yorker, 26 May 1956
... some were big and commodious, but none was handsome —A. J. Liebling, New Yorker, 18 June 1955
... I'm sorry to say none of my sisters are coming to London this summer —Lewis Carroll, letter, 23 May 1864
... and of all that race none is more ungratefuller — Lewis Carroll, letter, 13 Mar. 1869
Clearly, none has been both singular and plural since Old English and still is. The notion that it is singular only is a myth of unknown origin that appears to have arisen late in the 19th century. If in context it seems like a singular to you, use a singular verb; if it seems like a plural, use a plural verb. Both are acceptable beyond serious criticism.(資料出處：韋伯斯特英語用法詞典)