Articles Part 2

A/an and One


Before a singular countable noun one and a/an both refer to one thing:

  • We'll be in Australia for one year. (ora year.)
  • Wait here for one minute, and I'll be with you. (ora minute…)

Using one in sentences like these gives a little more emphasis to the length of time, quantity, amount, etc.:

  • He weighs one hundred and twenty kilos! Would you believe it! (using one emphasises the weight more than using a)

However, we use one rather than a/an if we want to emphasise that we are talking about only one thing or person rather than two or more:

  • Do you want one sandwich or two?
  • Are you staying only one night?
  • I just took one look at her and she started crying.

We use one, not a/an, in the pattern one…other/another:

  • Close one eye, and then the other.
  • Bees carry pollen from one plant to another.

We also use one in phrases such as one day, one evening, on spring, etc. to mean a particular, but unspecified day, evening, spring, etc.:

  • Hope to see you again one day.
  • One evening, while he was working late at the office…


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