One

'One' is an impersonal pronoun that refers to a specific person or thing. In this part, we will go through its uses and grammatical rules in English grammar.

The Pronoun "One" in the English Grammar

One is known as an impersonal pronoun, but it has another function as well. In this lesson, we will discuss when and how to use it.

Functions of 'One'

1. 'One' as an Impersonal Pronoun

Use

One as an impersonal pronoun replaces the subject or the object. One, in general, does not refer to a specific thing or person. Here are some examples:

When I was accepted to the university, my sisters became so happy and one even cried.

'One' is a subject and refers to 'my sisters' but we do not know which one.

I have some books. Do you want one?

'One' is an impersonal object pronoun because it replaces the object.

Patterns with 'One'

One as an impersonal pronoun can be used with these structures:

  • one of + superlative adjectives + plural nouns

One of the most modern cities in Iran is Tabriz.

'The most modern' is a superlative adjective.

  • one of + possessive determiners + plural nouns

One of my books are there.

It is not clear which book we are referring to.

  • one of + object pronouns

My brother has so many students. But he likes one of them more than the others.

'Them' is an object pronoun.

  • the one(s) + that/which/who

I have so many books. The one that I like the most is over there.

'One' is a pronoun.

I have three friends. The ones that are over there, are my best friends.

  • this one/that one/these ones/those ones

This book is awesome. This one is a rubbish.

'This one' replaces the subject.

These ones are the best.

Position in a Sentence

One as an impersonal pronoun replaces the object or the subject. For example:

One must study hard for the entrance exam.

'One' is a subject.

He is the best one.

'One' is the object.

I have some books. Do you want one?

'One' replaces the object.

2. 'One' as a Numeral

One as a numeral has three functions:

2.1. 'One' as an Adverbial Noun

Use

One as an adverbial noun is a noun that replaces the adverb. Here are its uses:

  • One means 'one o'clock.' For example:

Come here at one.

  • One means 'one year old.' For example:

Alan turns one next month.

Position in a Sentence

One as an adverbial noun acts as an adverb, so it modifies the verb. Look:

Alan turns one next month.

'One' completes the meaning of the verb 'turns.'

2.2 'One' as a Noun

One as a noun can be a number, a drink, the size of clothing, a joke, etc. Take a look at its uses:

Use

  • One is a cardinal number. For example:

One hundred and thirty

One and a half kilo

  • One as a noun means an alcoholic drink. For example:

Let's have one tonight.

  • *One is used in shopping to refer to the size one. For example:

A : What's your size?

B : I wear one.

  • One in informal English means 'a joke' or 'a story.' For example:

Have you heard of the one about the ducklings?

  • One in American English means one dollar. Note that it is informal. Look:

If you are short of money, I have one.

Position in a Sentence

One as a noun is positioned in different ways. Look:

One hundred and thirty one

2.3 'One' as a Determiner

Use

One as a determiner modifies a noun or a noun phrase and it is used in many ways. We will cover its uses in this section.

  • One as a determiner makes the preceding noun or noun phrase indefinite. For example:

One day we will go there.

'One day' means no matter when.

One night, I was there.

'One night' means it does not matter which night.

They have one big house.

'One big house' means 'a big house' no matter which house.

  • One is used with people's name to show that we have never met them before. Like:

They sold their car to one Jack Smith.

The owner of this house is one Alan.

'One Alan' means 'someone called Alan.'

  • One in north American English is used to emphasize the following noun. Remember that this use is mainly in conversations. For example:

He was one big-mouth boy.

This boy is famous for being big-mouth.

I had one horrible dream.

'One horrible dream' means 'the worst dream ever.'

Position in a Sentence

One as a determiner comes before nouns or noun phrases. Look:

One night, I was there.

'Night' is a noun.

They have one big house.

'Big house' is a noun phrase.

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