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'one' and 'ones'

Level: beginner

We use one (singular) and ones (plural):

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.

after which in questions:

You can borrow a book. Which one do you want?
Which ones are yours?

one and ones 1


one and ones 2




Sometimes there can be ambiguity in determining whether the subject is singular or plural. For example, which of the two following sentences is the correct one?
1. One of the items that helps us is the inward attention.
2. One of the items that help us is the inward attention.

In other words, does the 'that' applies to the 'One' or 'the items'?

Thank you.

Hello TCGopal,

Both forms are possible here.


One of the items that helps us is the inward attention.

There are many items; one of them helps us and this distinguishes it from the others.

A similar construction would be this:

One of the children that has red hair...

Only one child has red hair.


One of the items that help us is the inward attention.

There are many items which help us and the speaker is talking about one of them.

A similar construction would be this

One of the children that have red hair...

A number of children have red hair.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I've got a question. Are "ones" and "the" necessary in the sentence below, do they change the meaning in any way (especially "the"):
In my opinion artificial intelligence has more negative aspects than (THE/-) positive (ONES/-).

Hello marcinpagi111

It's not correct to use 'the' here. I would recommend that you use 'ones'. Although it is possible to omit it, most of the time it would be included.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi everyone. Can anyone help me clear out this doubt?
Do we have to use "one" in the following sentence #2 or is it optional?=

1. The Nile River is the longest in the world
2. The Nile River is the longest one in the world

Which of the above sentences is the most accurate one grammatically speaking?

If you follow the rules explained in the beginning of this page we would have to use "one" after "the longgest" because it is an adjective, it is true that it is a superlative, but still an adjective anyway.

My confusion is that if we're using River in the sentence isn't it a little redundant to say "one" since we already know we're talking about the river?

The same happens when we say:

Yours is the black one, mine is the cheapest one.
Isn't repeating "one" a little redundant in this example or it is exactly the right way to say it?

I'm a teacher of English as a second language so I just want to make sure I'm explaining this topic the right way and giving my students the best examples in order to not confuse them. Sometimes nonnative speakers have these ideas that might not even be true or perceived the same way by native speakers. I appreciate your help and remarks.

Hello joshuadipal,

We do not need to use one or ones after every adjective. We use them when we need to avoid repeating a noun or when we want to distinguish between items within a particular set (i.e. saying this one not that one).


One is often optional if the context is sufficiently clear. For example:

I have three books I can lend you. This is the longest (book/one) and this is the funniest (book/one), while this is the most interesting (book/one).


Both of your sentences about the Nile are fine, but the first is more natural-sounding because the context makes the use of 'one' unnecessary.


In your second example, the second 'one' can also be omitted as it is clear that the second adjective refers to the same kind of item as the first:

Yours is the black one, mine is the cheapest (one).



The LearnEnglish Team

What about the use of "these/those ones"? My little brother tells me it's incorrect, but I don't believe him. Even though it sounds awkward, I can't think of a reason it should be wrong. Is it?

Hello EvenPhteven,

The phrases 'these ones' and 'those ones' are perfectly fine. For example:

Can you pass me the cups, please?

Which? These ones or those ones?



The LearnEnglish Team

Can you please explain the grammar of ONE in the following sentences and which one is rigt or wrong
Jude, he is a one
Jude, he is the one

Hello Jude

Both sentences are grammatically correct but mean different things. What is the idea that you want to express here? The first one would suggest a score of 1 on a scale of numbers, for example 1 to 10. The second suggests he is the one chosen to do or be something.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team