One and Ones in English Grammar

The Difference between 'One' and 'Ones'

'One' and 'ones' are impersonal pronouns in English. They're used in place of previously mentioned nouns to avoid repetition.

One and Ones

Similarities

As a personal pronoun (both subject and object), 'one' can be used to refer to 'people in general'.
'One' and 'ones' are both impersonal pronouns. An impersonal pronoun is one that does not refer to a specific person or thing. These pronouns are usually used to refer to an unspecified person or people in general.

Differences

  1. 'One' replaces a singular noun.
  2. 'Ones' replaces a plural noun.

Too Formal

We often use 'one' or 'ones' in more formal styles of writing. Too much use of it might result in a very formal language (that almost sound unnatural).

One

The pronoun 'one' replaces singular or one person, animal, or thing.

The bus just left right now . The next one will be here in 15 minutes .

Here, the noun 'bus' is replaced by 'one'. The adjective 'next' can't be used alone and the repetition of 'bus' doesn't sound natural. Therefore, we replaced 'one' to avoid repetition.

Do you know these guys ? Molly is the tall one and Emily is the short one .

As you can see, we cannot omit the pronoun 'one' and say 'Molly is the tall and Emily is the short'.

Ones

'Ones' replaces the nouns that are used in the plural form. They can refer to people, animals or things.

These pants are more to my style . The ones I tried before weren't to my liking .

Here, 'ones' replaces 'pants' (a plural noun)

My glasses are broken . I need new ones .

Uses

We use 'one' and 'ones':

  • after an adjective

Which is your jacket , the brown one or the gray one ?

  • after the definite article 'the'

Do you see those dogs ? Jessie is the one chewing that toy .

  • after 'which' as a question word

Which one is your luggage ?

  • After demonstrative pronouns

Look at all these muffins . That one looks delicious .

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