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 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 

hello, I have a question. what the difference between Do you ever go to the cinema? and do you go to the cinema? beacuse the adverb "ever" is not just for present perfect.

Thanks a lot

Hello angelike,

'Ever' can be used with many verb forms, as you say. In this sentence there is very little difference. I think the question with 'ever' suggests that the person asking the question expects that the other person does not go to the cinema often, and perhaps never, while the question without 'ever' is more neutral, without any expectations.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

i have a question regarding the use of English pronouns and, since i'm not a native, it might seem silly. Many times i have seen the use of a singular pronoun, and then plural pronouns to refer to the previous singular pronoun. is that correct or is it just a trick to avoid using of masculine/feminine pronouns? i just give an example which i encountered in a book (and this book contains many instances of this use of pronouns):

When "someone" has to change, "they" are naturally going to be resistant.

and again

… what does "your friend" do? "They" pull their arm back and say…

Hello Prince Myshkin,

When we do not know the gender of the person and do not wish to guess or to use a gender-specific pronoun, we have two choices. We can say 'he or she', which is rather clumsy, or we can say 'they' (with a plural noun), which is now the normal use. This is actually quite an old feature of English. You can find examples of 'they' used in this way in Shakespeare and Chaucer, for example.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hello learnenglish.britishcouncil.org staff,
Thank you for your pretty and useful job that you are doing here

you said: see those two girls?
can we ask like that ? with out using question word or using auxiliary verb before the main verb ?