The term one’s is the singular possessive form of the word one, meaning I or you. E.g., “One must examine one’s actions before criticizing others.” Also, the term ones is the plural form of the number one. E.g., “The teacher gave him ones on all his art projects.”
As the following chart shows, there is no plural possessive form of the word one.
Here are some examples of how the different forms appear in a sentence:
- Singular: He only gave me one opportunity, and I failed.
- Plural: I was looking for some new sneakers but I don’t know which ones to buy.
- Singular possessive: As a lawyer, one’s emotions must be controlled.
The term one has several meanings.
Firstly, it refers to the number one.
Secondly, people use the word one to refer to themselves or others.
Thirdly, in its singular and plural form, the number one can refer to an object you previously mentioned or options in a choice.
Although the word one is common and seems relatively straightforward, using the possessive form can be tricky. Therefore, you should continue reading the rest of the page to learn how to use one correctly.
The term one’s is the singular possessive form of the word one. In this context, the word one can mean I or you, but it can also refer to people in general.
As shown in these examples:
- The events of yesterday ruined one’s afternoon.
- Ask yourself whether one’s self-respect is worth sacrificing for someone who isn’t worth it.
- As a primary school teacher, one’s patience is often tested.
Furthermore, although these sentences are correct, using the word one to refer to a person is a somewhat old-fashioned practice that primarily appears in English with a formal register.
The word ones is the plural form of the number one. Therefore, you can use it to mention a plural quantity of ones.
- The experiment results were all ones and threes, even though we had hoped for fours and fives.
However, the word one is also quite versatile because you can essentially use it to refer to almost any object or experience.
- I was accepted into Harvard and Yale. I don’t know which one to choose.
Of course, when using the plural form, ones, the thing you refer to must be plural.
- I cannot decide between my gold and silver earrings. Which ones should I wear?
- Look at these speakers. These are the ones I want for Christmas.
The word ones’ with an apostrophe at the end is incorrect in almost all cases. This is because there is no plural possessive of the word one.
Furthermore, if you are using the word one to refer to one person, it doesn’t make sense to use a plural version.
However, some rare circumstances exist in which people may use the plural possessive to refer to a group of people or objects they referred to in a previous sentence.
- We have fifty people waiting who all have tickets. Those ones’ tickets that say VIP can jump the line.
- The storm devasted many people. In particular, these ones’ houses were utterly destroyed.
Please be aware that this is not a typical structure, and it is better to phrase the sentence differently.
- We have fifty people waiting who all have tickets. The ones whose tickets say VIP can jump the line.
- The storm devasted many people. In particular, these peoples’ houses were utterly destroyed.