Be Careful When Using 'One Of' | Mastering Grammar

(Last Updated: 21 July 2024)

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 (except for certain fixed expressions like one of a kind and one of the old school):

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.)

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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'


Choose the correct answer to complete each sentence.

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.

5. One of my friend/friends has decided to move to London.

6. Hong Kong is one of my favourite city/cities.

Answer Key

1. children    2. ways    3. criteria    4. dishes    5. friends    6. cities

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.

(Source: Ying Wa Primary School)
(Also by the Same School: 1/2/3/4/5)

The plural should be used as what is being referred to is 'one of a number of tyres', or 'one of them'.
(Also by the Same Author: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7)

(Source: English Examiner for Junior Forms, Book 2A)
(Also by the Same Author: 1/2/3/4/5)

(Source: English Examiner for Junior Forms, Book 1B)
(Also by the Same Author: 1/2/3/4/5)

(Source: English Exercises for Brilliancy 1)

Each of refers to each individual member of a group, and in this case, the group is a collection of sentences. Therefore, the plural form sentences should be used.
(Source: 投考公務員題解EASY PASS 英文運用 (第五版))

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