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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




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 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 ?

Of course we can. It depends on the situation or context. And, it is not appropriate for formal situations.

Dear teacher,

As per my understanding, in question 1, the correct question sentence should be "How old are your children?" instead of "How old are my children?" Am I correct? Thank you so much in advance!

Hello Leo Le,

It would be more common to hear 'How old are your children?', wouldn't it? However, 'How old are my children?' is quite possible as a rhetorical question, or a repeated question to check that a person understands.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

With one and one's, what about the use of them in sentences as follows:

One rarely greets the Queen without bowing first.

It is unusual to bow to one's friend, however.

Hello John Murray,

'One's' is simply the possessive 's at the end of the pronoun.

'One' as a pronoun is used in a very formal style to mean 'a person'.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
I have a question regarding comparatives actually, that are mentioned here.

In one sentence above, it is written:
Helen is the TALL one and Jane is the SHORT one (instead of taller and shorter)

and in a sentence in the exercise on this page, it is written:
The YOUNGER one is old and the OLDER one is seven (instead of young and old)

Please tell me why there is such discrepancy in these sentences.

Thank you

Hello adtyagrwl3,

In the first example both 'tall' and 'taller' are possible, and 'short' and 'shorter'. If we say 'tall' then we are simply describing a characteristic of Helen; if we say 'taller' then we are comparing her to someone else.

In the second example there is a similar choice. We can describe a general characteristic ('young') or compare the person with someone else ('younger').

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team