Here are two sentences with one's health and his health :

One should take care of one's health.

One should take care of his health.

Do the meaning differs if we add own in these sentences as follows :

One should take care of one's own health.

One should take care of his own health.


Here is a sentence with oneself and one's :

One needs to provide food for onself and one's family.

Can I use use himself and his in the place of oneself and one's as :

One needs to provide food for himself and his family.

It seems the gender bias pronoun Himself and his exclude women even If I have used them to refer to both man and woman.

  • No and yes, respectively. But it's not clear why you're asking this.
    – Robusto
    Nov 19 '16 at 19:52
  • One is not a substitute for his/her, him/herself and should not be mixed.
    – Joe Dark
    Nov 19 '16 at 20:01
  • Use the singular their and Bob's your uncle. Thus: "One should take care of their health." This is ooooold news. Nov 19 '16 at 23:13
  • @Robusto I'm asking because I'm confused wheather can I mix himself and his in the place of oneself and one's in written and spoken English. But himself, his, his own seem to be refering to only male even if I use them to refer to both man and woman. Thus, The ambiguity lies here.
    – yubraj
    Nov 20 '16 at 3:26
  • 1
    @yubrajsharma: I wouldn't advise it. It's long since become an antiquated artifact of the language.
    – Robusto
    Nov 20 '16 at 3:41
  1. One should take care of one's health.

  2. One should take care of one's own health.

  3. One should take care of his health.

  4. One should take care of his own health.

  5. One should feed oneself and one's family.

All the sentences are grammatical.

The sentences #1, 2 and 5 are formal, whereas 3 & 4 are normally used in spoken and informal English.

Besides, the pronoun you is considered counterpart of one in informal English. So you can also say:

You should take care of your/your own health.

If you think the use of "his" in the sentence #3 is gender biased, you can use "their" instead of "his" in informal English as follows

One should take care of their health.

As for the use of own in the sentences #2 and 4, it puts emphasis on one's and his health.

  • I don't buy "not grammatically appropriate" regarding the pairing of one and his (it's relatively unusual, but I don't object to In order to become a conscious, individualised being, one needs his ego) And I certainly don't buy the idea that it's in any way more grammatically correct if you pair one with his or hers. That's just misplaced "gender sensitivity". Feb 20 '17 at 18:30
  • @FumbleFingers, I appreciate your comments.
    – Khan
    Feb 21 '17 at 11:23
  • I appreciate your edit. I can't find anything to disagree with now, so I've reversed my downvote! Feb 21 '17 at 15:45

The first two versions don't have a different meaning, the word "own" is just an emphasis.
Now, the sentence

One needs to provide food for himself and his family.

should be avoided. There are people, even linguists who think that's the way to handle a case where you can't or won't tell the gender but "he" does have a gender. Logically speaking a pronoun that serves the purpose to identify a specific gender is not fit to be used as neutral. The formal way is not to replace "one", so only the

One needs to provide food for oneself and one's family.

sentence is correct. Or you can convert the sentence to plural. And speaking of plural, we have the singular they:

One needs to provide food for themself and their family.

A lot of people will jump at this sentence, first because they think "themself" is a non-existent word (my spell checker thinks it too) and second because they think the usage of "they" here is a pronoun-antecedent agreement error. Don't listen to them.
Whenever you need to use a personal pronoun but you can't or won't tell the gender, use "they". It's certainly better than "he", it won't make the sentence unnecessarily complex like "he or she" and of course "he or she" addresses only two genders so you still exclude those who don't identify with either of them—"they" on the other hand now serves as the nonbinary (or gender neutral) pronoun, too.
Of course in formal speech and text this is still frowned upon and teachers who teach English (especially those who teach it as a foreign language) will freak out because of this but still this is the pronoun you're looking for if you want to replace the pronoun "one" or in any other case you don't want to deal with genders. Tom Scott sums it up well in this video and here's some further reading.

  • While I agree with your conclusion, I strongly disagree with the arrogant prescriptivist reasoning used to arrive there. According to the first few paragraphs, all native English speakers were flatly in the wrong for hundreds of years when they used "he"/"him"/"his" as the neutral. That's absurd. Feb 21 '17 at 22:56
  • The neutral meaning of "he" (if ever really existed) doesn't exist anymore in English. Some do want to repopularize it but that won't change the fact that it is a male pronoun and the truly neutral "they", which comes from the singular they which exists for 700 years, already took over. Edit: also you should look up the word arrogant, you're using it where it doesn't belong.
    – Korvin
    Feb 21 '17 at 23:03
  • You could make the case that "he" can no longer be used for neutral references (or more sensibly, should no longer), but you can't make that case on the purely logical ground that it's a masculine pronoun, as that is arrogant prescriptivism that ignores actual usage for hundreds of years for the sake of arbitrary made-up rules. Unfortunately, the answer tries the latter and not the former. Feb 21 '17 at 23:10

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