The word: one

  MAJ 10:10 03 Sep 2010

Last night I was asked a tricky (for me) question. I couldn't answer it with any degree of accuracy that I was happy with.

"What is the correct use of the word, one?" I mean, one, in the context of the sentence above:

"I couldn't answer it with any...."
"One couldn't answer it with any...."

I always thought it was used to replace the word, 'your' in certain circumstances. Any enlightenment as to a rule when and when not to use it would be helpful.

  Armchair 10:35 03 Sep 2010

"One does not simply walk into Mordor."

  MAJ 10:53 03 Sep 2010

Yes, I can see where you're coming from, fourm member, I also would use it the odd time when replying in print, but I can't remember ever using it in speech, my mates would probably disown me if I did. The question arose after some TV program or other in which quite a posh sounding lady was going on about her trips abroad. She would say things like: "When one was in India, one had to pitch one's own tent", she was talking about herself, not everyone in general. Being a bit common I would say: "When I was in India, I had to pitch my own tent". I'm saying she's wrong, I just don't know, and was wondering if there was a rule for using it, something along the lines of the, 'your, you're' rule?

  MAJ 10:55 03 Sep 2010

"I'm saying she's wrong...."

should read: "I'm NOT saying she's wrong...."

  MAJ 10:58 03 Sep 2010

Too right Armchair, there is evil there that does not sleep.

  QuizMan 11:05 03 Sep 2010

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, one, when used as a pronoun, has three meanings:
1) Referring to a person or thing previously mentioned or easily identified.
2) A person of a specified kind.
3) [third person singular] used to refer to the speaker, or any person, as representing people in general - those are OED brackets.

On this basis, number 3 suggests that the use of one by the "posh lady" is correct. I do not mean that the use of "I" is not correct, just there are two ways to express the same thing. It is all down to the joys of the English language.

  MAJ 11:23 03 Sep 2010

"3) [third person singular] used to refer to the speaker"

That's the bit one didn't get, QuizMan. I guessed she was correct in the way she was saying it, It's just that I couldn't understand or explain the reason for it properly. Many thanks, QuizMan, another little niggle out of the way.

  Quickbeam 12:00 03 Sep 2010

"The use of 'one' has become marginalised as 'posh'"
That's how I perceive it, probably because it only seems to be when Prince Charles speaks that I hear it.

  Bingalau 13:06 03 Sep 2010

I thought it was reserved for "Royal" use only.

  Quickbeam 13:50 03 Sep 2010

One has got it in one... Bingalau:)

  QuizMan 14:54 03 Sep 2010

Bingalau - yes, Royals and, as Armchair points out, a certain regualr contributor to this forum too.

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