What is the difference between 'on' and 'one'?
The words on and one are often confused because they are easy to mistype. But what is the difference?
On is a preposition meaning "positioned at the upper surface of, touching from above".
One means "the integer greater than zero and less than two" when used as a number. One is also used as a pronoun meaning "a single individual".
It's easy to mistype one and on, but these two words have very different meanings. Let's take a closer look at each of them.
On is a preposition with several meanings. The most common meaning is "atop" (e.g. the book is on the table). It can indicate contact with a noun (e.g. I cut my finger on the paper) or refer to specific location or time. As an adjective, on means the opposite of off. Some synonyms of on are: active, atop, about, at length, in use, functioning.
Examples of "on":
- The cat sat on the mat.
- I was on my way to school when the trouble started.
- Can you switch the machine on?
One is a number. It is greater than zero and less than two. It can also be a pronoun to refer to a single individual. As an adjective, one refers to an singular noun (e.g. one day). Some synonyms of one are: single, singular, sole, only.
Examples of "one":
- It only takes one rotten apple.
- Do you want one or two sandwiches in your lunchbox?
- I'd like one of those to go, please.
Which is correct, "on the other hand" or "one the other hand"?
The correct expression is "on the other hand" – e.g. I like chocolate, but on the other hand, I hate gaining weight!
Which is correct, "on the basis of" or "one the basis of"?
The right expression is "on the basis of" – e.g. On the basis of the evidence, they installed two solar panels instead of three.
Is the phrase "and so on" or "and so one"?
The correct phrase is "and so on" – e.g. There are many tenses in the English language: the past simple, the past continuous, the past perfect, the present simple, and so on...
Should I use "back to square one" or "back to square on"?
The right expression is "back to square one" – e.g. He didn't write any of his methods down, so we're back to square one.
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Think you know the difference? Test your knowledge in the quiz below!
The definitions in this article were adapted from Wiktionary and Merriam-Webster.
Examples of on in a sentence
All rights on behalf of itself and Index Music, Inc., administered by WB Music Corp.- Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
He sat perfectly still as he focused on Max with a startling pair of mismatched eyes.- The Hound of Rowan by Henry H. Neff
But does he know more than he’s letting on?- Secret Weapon Spouse by B. J. Daniels
He pounded on the earth, trying to keep the hands from pulling him under.It wasn't working.- Beyond belief by Roy Johansen
Even Jared, who was already on his way to becoming a lawyer, would show no mercy.- The heart of Devin MacKade by Nora Roberts
Examples of one in a sentence
There is only one Tapestry.”- The wandering fire by Guy Gavriel Kay
Being psychic has advantages at times, and this was one of them.- Touch of Darkness by C. T. Adams; Cathy Clamp
CHAPTER ONE- The Rise and Fall of a Dragonking by Lynn Abbey
PART ONE- In the night room: a novel by Peter Straub
A spellbinding tale of one woman’s exotic search for identity and true love.”—Rachel- Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
Choose the missing word in each question.