I saw the sentence in my book ‘each one represented a goddess’, and I felt I can delete the ‘one’ of the sentence. Can I, and why?

  • If you look at some dictionary definitions of each, I'm sure you'll find that most of them mention the specific word pair every one as a possible replacement. So maybe we could say one is "optional" because it's already implicit in each anyway. You haven't given a full context for your fragment (it's not even a complete sentence, if I take account of the fact it doesn't start with a capital letter), but I will just point out that idiomatically today you can't include one in contexts like We found several statues that each represented a goddess. – FumbleFingers Jun 4 '19 at 13:18
  • @FumbleFingers Each one represented a goddess. Can this sentence have ‘one’? – Y. zeng Jun 4 '19 at 13:31
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    Probably. But it would help if you would provide more context in the question text above. For example a link to your source, or at least you could tell us what words / sentences came before the words you've given us. At the moment it's not at all clear, and including a capital letter in the comment version (but not in the question text itself) just makes things even more vague. – FumbleFingers Jun 4 '19 at 13:40
  • @FumbleFingers - It could well be that the lower-case "each" is found in the original. I only found two hits for this phrase on Google, and neither one had "Each". It appears to be an English translation of a Chinese text. Your point is a good one, though, and the OP should realize: the less you tell us about a sentence, the less we can tell you about that sentence. – J.R. Jun 4 '19 at 14:09
  • @J.R.: I did actually check Google Books for the specific text, but it wasn't found. I never thought to check Google Internet, but I see now that you're right about there being only two instances. FWIW, my gut feel is that including unnecessary / optional one in such contexts is a kind of "emphasizer". I don't have the necessary technical skills to confirm my thinking by a corpus search, but my feeling is that "more emphatic" version is more likely if preceding text states or implies quite a few, more than you might expect examples of whatever kind of thing we're talking about. – FumbleFingers Jun 4 '19 at 15:49

I think in all such contexts, each one is simply an optional "flourish" that doesn't really make any difference at all - but some people might think it adds slightly more emphasis.

Most dictionaries would probably give every one (two words, not the single-word form everyone = everybody = all people) as an exact synonym that can directly replace each. But note that regardless of whether or not the "original" included the word one, it's always required after every in such contexts.

I can't think of any context where it's necessary to include one after each, so my advice for learners would be to stick with plain each unless you want to be more emphatic, in which case you could express that using every [single] one (where including single adds even more emphasis, but note that each single one would rarely be idiomatic).

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