Why is it incorrect to say,

"One of my cousin called me."

instead of

"One of my cousins called me."

  • ”One of my cousins“, I don't know why, but I have read many such kind of things. – Zhang Apr 28 '18 at 0:53
  • 3
    If something is one of ____, then it can only be one of many things. "One of one thing" doesn't make any sense. – stangdon Apr 28 '18 at 1:16
  • @stangdon You native speaker could never thought about the non-native's confusion :). If I haven't read so many, I might have the same question. When I just want to say "my cousin called me", I would find "my cousins called me" a little wierd. I know the difference, I just give an example. – Zhang Apr 28 '18 at 1:41
  • @马化腾 - I'm just curious: does your native language have plurals, and does it use them this way? I speak a little German, Spanish, and French, and all of them would use the plural here exactly the same way. – stangdon Apr 28 '18 at 16:53
  • @stangdon yes, my native language is English. This is one of my pet peeves. I'm trying to find a graceful, effective way to educate others about it. – dwilli Oct 1 '19 at 18:31

Break it down to pieces like this:

I have five cousins. One of them called me.


One of my cousins called me.


One of my cousins (I have five of them! That's a lot!) called me.

| improve this answer | |
  • Yes, that makes sense, especially to a native speaker. But judging from the comments above it doesn't make sense to non-native speakers who don't have the same convention in their native languages. I'm looking for a grammatical explanation that can be used by a non-native speaker to make the correct choice. – dwilli Apr 14 '19 at 2:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.