When I'd been a cadet, one term, we'd studied (among much else) a play by Shaw and a tragedy by Shakespeare. Shaw's plays had a clear message, explained importantly in the preface to each. One may question if early experience influenced his writing to a very great extent. Did Shakespeare have a message or were his works coloured by childhood traumas? Could he not have just written to earn a living in the then world of entertainment? Of course, all actions and imaginations by everyone are influenced by their experiences to a greater or lesser extent. However, could it be that we may assign an undue importance to these? Certainly, please inform Mr John Gray that his thesis in this case tends to convince one of its validity.

BBC News

What does the bold part mean?

Isn't "convince" always followed by somebody rather than something? How can sb/sth convince sth else?

1 Answer 1


In this case, one is actually a pronoun. It means something like somebody/the average person/one person you picked out of a crowd. It's similar to the general you as a pronoun. Another example:

Person A: Wait, he stole a police officer's wallet? Wouldn't it be smarter to pick the pocket of someone who can't arrest you?

Person B: One would think!

And a perhaps more likely response from Person B in casual conversation:

Person B: You'd think so!

The two essentially mean the same thing. "The average person would probably think this were the case."

So in your original sentence, what the writer is saying is "The thesis is good enough that most people/the average person would be convinced by it." The paper is personified here; the person becomes convinced by reading it, so we say that the thesis paper "convinced" the person.

  • Right before I saw you answer, I realized I had just misread it as convince "one of its validity". You convinced one of its correctness of that sentence! @WendiKidd
    – Kinzle B
    Commented May 31, 2014 at 0:00

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