Posted by Manjusha Filed in Practical English Usage

One is a substitute word. We often use one instead of repeating a singular countable noun.

One has a plural ones.

Leaving out one(s)

One(s) can be left out immediately after superlatives, this, that, these, those, either, neither, another and some other determiners.

We do not use one(s) immediately after my, your etc., some, any, both or a number.

But note that one(s) is used in all these cases if there is an adjective.

We do not use one(s) for uncountable and abstract nouns.

One and It

To refer to one particular thing that has already been clearly identified, we use it, not one.


One (indefinite personal pronoun)

We can use one or you to talk about people in general.

Note that one is more formal than you.

One is not used to generalise about people who could not include the speaker; you is not used to generalise about people who could not include the hearer.

Pronouns referring back to one

When one is used in American English, he, him and his are generally used later in a sentence to refer back to one. This is not normal in British English.

One can be a subject or object; there is a possessive one’s and a reflexive pronoun oneself.

See also

Of course
On time and in time
Ought to have + past participle
Overlook and look over: difference
Owing to, due to, because of and on account of

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