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Be Careful When Using 'One Of'

(Last Updated: 3 November 2022)

Using a singular noun after one of (or each of) is a very common mistake. One of means there is more than one, so we must use a plural noun after it:

One of the bag is missing.
One of the bags is missing. (There are other bags.)

One of my student has won a prize.
One of my students has won a prize. (I teach a group of students. The prize-winning student is one of them.)

John is one of the worst politician we have ever seen.
John is one of the worst politicians we have ever seen. (As a politician, John is one of the worst. There are other bad politicians.)

Hong Kong is one of the most crowded city in the world.
✅ Hong Kong is one of the most crowded cities in the world. (There are many crowded cities in the world. Hong Kong is only one of them.)

Examples from the Media

One of their top countries of focus this past year has been Afghanistan. The war-torn state has long been one of the most dangerous locations for queer people. —Toronto Star (2022)

Signal is one of the few successful tech products, like the Firefox browser, led by vociferous critics of Big Tech. —The Washington Post (2022)

Hong Kong owes its prosperity and status as one of the world's great cities to its harbour. South China Morning Post (2022)

One of Queenstown's biggest employers has just inked a deal to provide accommodation for some of its staff. Otago Daily Times (2022)

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John Lee's 'Mother Secondary School'

Practice

Choose the correct answers to complete the sentences.

1. The social worker got a call from one of the child/children in her care.

2. Doing exercise is one of the best way/ways to deal with stress.

3. To qualify for this job, you must meet every one of the criterion/criteria.

4. This is one of the most delicious dish/dishes I've ever tasted.

Answer Key

1. children    2. ways    3. criteria    4. dishes

Real-World Examples of Misuse

The plural form exhibitions has to be used as the exhibition is one of the largest. There are other large exhibitions.


The plural should be used as what is being referred to is 'one of a number of tyres', or 'one of them'.





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