I know news doesn't have a plural, but what is correct in the following example:

We must recognize real news from fake one.


We must recognize real news from fake ones.

Thank you in advance

  • 2
    Related ell.stackexchange.com/q/68501/9161
    – ColleenV
    Jan 30, 2019 at 17:26
  • @ColleenV: Nicely found. It's nowhere near a "duplicate", imho, but definitely extremely relevant. Jan 30, 2019 at 17:38
  • @FumbleFingers Definitely not a duplicate, but I wanted to link it just in case someone with the other question found this discussion first. I wish there was a way to see the “related links” section of the sidebar in the mobile view.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 31, 2019 at 15:20
  • @ColleenV: Oh! I've only just noticed that Linked 4 News for plural on the sidebar (I'm on a PC desktop). I always assumed the Related list was just based on an automated search for earlier posts having many words / text sequences in common with the current one. I didn't even realise there was such a thing as Linked (which I assume arises purely because you put that link in your comment - or is it a "mod thing" that you can explicitly set the sidebar notification?). Jan 31, 2019 at 15:52
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Any ELL question linked in a comment/answer/question by anyone should appear there. The Contributor’s Guide on English Language Learners Meta is a good example of a fully populated “Linked” list.
    – ColleenV
    Jan 31, 2019 at 16:10

3 Answers 3


Neither; either repeat “news” or omit it entirely:

“We must distinguish real news from fake news.”

“We must distinguish real news from fake.”

  • 1
    Interestingly, although I have at least "misgivings" about the usage, I found a few dozen written instances of long trousers, not short ones in Google Books. But you're quite right that we definitely can't / don't / won't use that construction with news. Jan 30, 2019 at 17:23
  • His question is still somewhat valid, why isn't it valid to say "We must distinguish real news from fakes?"
    – Bill K
    Jan 30, 2019 at 21:36
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    @FumbleFingers That's simply because news doesn't have a plural. "Ones" works in any case where you can refer to the noun as "those", such as "those trousers". No reason to have misgivings about this.
    – user91988
    Jan 30, 2019 at 22:34
  • @FumbleFingers That's because "trousers" is plural. One "trouser" is just a tube of material. During the middle-ages, people in Europe would wear a tube of material on each leg (a.k.a. "hose" - or, in Scotland, "trews" which then became "trouser") with a codpiece in the centre. Someone then re-invented the idea of stitching both tubes together with some extra material ("a pair of trousers") - which Asians had already been doing since the 10th Century BC for riding horses... Jan 31, 2019 at 9:28

You're right.  The word "news" doesn't have a plural form.  That fact is a good reason to avoid using the pronoun "one". 

There is a useful description for nouns that don't have plural forms.  We call them strictly uncountable.  As either an adjective or a pronoun, the word "one" involves counting. 

Your examples are trying to count something that is strictly uncountable. 

  • I found A fourth class of bipartite nouns (e.g. scissors, trousers) is generally recognised for English. Might that be as opposed to "not so strictly uncountable" nouns, that we can reference with I want the sharp scissors, not the blunt ones, or He's wearing short trousers, not long ones - whereas we can't do anything like that with news. Jan 30, 2019 at 17:34
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    I don't see much similarity between pluralia tantum and strictly uncountable nouns like "news" and "software". The idea of something being uncountably plural doesn't make sense to me. The lack of a singular form and the lack of a plural form have different consequences. Jan 30, 2019 at 17:44
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    But surely trousers and scissors are "uncountably plural", in that we have to use ones rather than one in my examples above. Whatever - Apparently the news are good (or were, back in Carlyle's day), but today the news can only take a singular verb form. Jan 30, 2019 at 18:04
  • Yes, we use the plural form "ones" to agree with the plural form "trousers". That's evidence of counting, rather than evidence of a lack of counting. We're distinguishing between one and anything other than one -- a very limited counting, but that's all that English grammar provides. Jan 30, 2019 at 18:18
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    @FumbleFingers Trousers and scissors aren't uncountable. They come in pairs. Jan 30, 2019 at 19:25

When we use the word "news" as in your examples, it refers to news in general, not specific articles. Therefore, it's an uncountable noun, and you can't use a singular pronoun to refer to it.

If you want to refer to a specific piece of news, we call it an "article" or "item". So you could write:

We must recognize real news articles from fake ones.

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