We use one (singular) and ones (plural) to avoid unnecessary repetition.

See those two girls? Helen is the tall one and Jane is the short one.
Which is your car, the red one or the blue one?
My trousers are torn. I need some new ones.
See those two girls. Helen is the one on the left.
Let’s look at the photographs. The ones you took in Paris.

We often use them after Which ... in questions:

You can borrow a book. Which one do you want?
There are lots of books here. Which ones are yours?




Hello, I have a question from my linguistics textbook that I find quite confusing and don't know how to answer...

Here's the example sentence:
Marjorie invited the two professors with gray beards from Princeton and Bill invited the ones from Yale.

The question is:
Why can't the pronoun "ones" take as its antecedent the constituent beginning with "two"?

This is how I interpret the question:
Why can't the pronoun "ones" take as its antecedent[,] (the textbook should have added a comma here) the constituent beginning with "two".

So I think basically it's trying to ask why isn't "ones" equivalent to "professors with gray beards"

From here, I learned that we use one/ones to avoid unnecessary repetition, but is it limited to nouns only? Can we use one/ones to avoid repeating phrases or clauses, too?

If it is only limited to nouns, the "ones" in the example sentence should be referred to "professors" instead of "professors with gray beards". And that's why they are not equivalent.

However, if we can use one/ones to avoid repeating phrases and clauses, too, then I think I won't be able to answer the question.

Please help me clarify the problem above and thank you so much!

Hello, can i know why do we use one instead of ones in the question N.2

Hello Eman tohamy,

We use 'ones' in this sentence because 'mobiles' is plural. If we were asking about one mobile then we would say 'one'.

The new mobile is better than the old one.

The new mobiles are better than the old ones.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry I didn't say Hi, or Hello, or Dear Team in the comment I've just sent. (I was really focused on the topic I was asking about).

I've come across a sentence as an example in an English grammar book regarding to Relative Clauses. The sentece is: Our house is the one with the new paint.
I understand that here the indefenite "one" is the acting as a relative pronoun meaning "the one that has new paint".
I wonder if I am right. I haven't found any explanation about it. (Grammar Books checked: Swan, Parrot and Pearson)
Thanks in advance.

Hello albert,

I've never heard of 'one' being described as a relative pronoun. In this case, I'd say it's a substitute word that is used to avoid repeating the word 'house' again. So the structure of the sentence is the subject noun phrase 'Our house' + the link verb 'be' + the complement noun phrase 'the one (house) with the new paint'. At least that's how I see it!

And no worries about saying 'hello' in your first comment!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,

Are both "like" and "likes" acceptable for the following sentence?

One of the girls who LIKE / LIKES singing is Nancy.

Thank you for your help.

Hello lanives,

No, only 'likes' is correct because the subject 'one of the girls' refers to one girl – therefore the singular form of the verb is the one needed here.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Forgive me, but I believe that in this instance you would use the plural. I see this quite a bit with prepositional phrases.

The subject is not simply "one of the girls." It is "one of the girls who like singing." The lack of commas tells us that.

It's a little bit awkward because the sentence is quite brief, but technically, there are two different things you could be saying here, and "one/ones" depends upon your meaning.

In order to use the singular, you would need to be referring specifically to Nancy. Nancy, for instance, is one of the girls, but Nancy individually likes singing.

"One of the girls, who likes singing, is Nancy."

Here, "who likes singing" is an nonrestrictive clause. This means that we could take it out of the sentence entirely and not lose the sentence's meaning: "One of the girls is Nancy." You're just giving us more information about Nancy. EX: This is Nancy. She's one of the girls, and, oh, that reminds me: she likes singing.

In the original sentence, though, you're talking about "girls who like singing." If you took that out, you may not have enough information about Nancy. Nancy isn't just one of the girls; she's one of a specific group of girls: the group made up of girls who like singing.

Hello girlwanders,

Yes, you're absolutely right. I think you could still hear the form that I suggested, though really, as you rightly point out, the plural verb is the correct one here.

Thanks very much for correcting me!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team