‘One of’ or ‘a’?

Posted by on November 9th, 2017 | 2 responses | a, articles, grammar, IELTS, indefinite article, Indo English, one of many, salah satu, speaking, writing

Euthanasia may be one of ways to deliver health resources fairly to people who still want to live.

Indonesian flag This is a direct translation from Bahasa Indonesia: ‘salah satu‘.
For every noun in English it is important to communicate one of three meanings:

In the opening example the writer communicated successfully. However, the sentence is gramatically incorrect. If you really must use ‘one of‘ then you need more grammar:

  • Euthanasia may be one of several ways to deliver.. (‘several’ behaves like ‘many’)
  • Euthanasia may be one of the best ways to deliver.. (‘one of’ + the + superlative adjective + plural count noun)

You can see how easy it can be to introduce grammatical error, or to choose the wrong word to follow ‘one of’! A much easier and far more common way to communicate ‘one of many’ is using the indefinite article ‘a‘ (or ‘an‘) – NOT ‘one of‘.
Want to communicate one of manyUse the indefinite article:

  • Euthanasia may be a way to deliver health resources fairly to people who still want to live.

For more examples of article use, click the articles tag.

2 responses to “‘One of’ or ‘a’?”

  1. Yours truly says:

    What about the use of “the one and only”? If we want to communicate “satu satunya cara”, is “the only way” sufficient?

    • PG says:

      Yes that’s right: ‘Satu satunya cara’ = ‘The only way’. ‘The one and only’ is a little different. It’s used to talk about a person who has some special qualities that make him or her very different from everybody else. These people are often leaders in their field. They are often famous actors, musicians, or perhaps sports personalities. Even though there may be many people called ‘Lewis Hamilton’, if I say ‘the one and only Lewis Hamilton’ then everybody knows I’m talking about the F1 driver!

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