The Disappearance of _One_

Author: Jake Bauer | Published: 2020-05-02

One is a word that used to be quite popular but has since fallen to the wayside in favour of the less specific and more casual you. One is a gender-neutral, indefinite pronoun that is used to refer to the general concept of a person. For example, one would say, “One goes down to the shop,” instead of, “You go down to the shop,” when they mean, “In general, a person goes down to the shop,” as opposed to specifically, “You go down to the shop.”

There is great value to be found in the use of this word. Without it, the lines of meaning become blurred regarding whether an author is referring to you, the reader, or just speaking generally. Usually, this can be easily inferred from context, but I have seen misunderstandings caused by the use of the word you in the place of the word one where someone thought another person was commenting on their actions when, in reality, the other person was speaking generally. These misunderstandings could be easily avoided by using one instead of the less-specific you.

It’s a shame that this word is falling out of general use and has become relegated to more formal writing and speaking. As hopeless as it may be to fight against the unrelenting force of language evolution, it’s a valuable word that I will try to keep using where appropriate because I don’t want to see its meaning lost.

If you want to learn more about the usage of one, see Wikipedia: One_(pronoun).

This is my eighth post for the #100DaysToOffload challenge. You can learn more about this challenge over at