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I encountered the "ones" functioning as a possessive pronoun in this context:

In the individual, this cultural context is expressed in terms of ones attitudes, beliefs, personality characteristics, ideals, expectations, etc …

Source: Motivation and Second Language Acquisition

I wonder if it should be its homophone "one's", or it's just like the "its" in this sentence?

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  • 7
    Yes, you are right. It should be one’s. It’s a typographical mistake. Commented May 13 at 11:28
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    Voting to close as this is just error-checking.
    – Astralbee
    Commented May 13 at 12:40
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    The genitive form is "one's"
    – BillJ
    Commented May 13 at 14:54
  • @PaulTanenbaum Reads like an answer. Commented May 13 at 16:45
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    It's not error-checking if you don't know its an error. This is a perfectly valid question. Commented May 13 at 16:45

1 Answer 1

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In the sentence you mentioned, "ones" should actually be "one's." The correct version is:

"In the individual, this cultural context is expressed in terms of one's attitudes, beliefs, personality characteristics, ideals, expectations, etc."

Here, "one's" means it belongs to someone, just like when we use "John's" to talk about something that belongs to John. "Ones" without an apostrophe is wrong in this context because it's used for talking about more than one thing, like saying "all the red ones."

Here's an example sentence where deciding between "one's" and "ones" can be tricky due to the context:

Example Sentence: "Choose the option that best suits one's/ones needs."

In this case, the correct form to use is "one's," since it is referring to the needs belonging to an unspecified person. Here's the sentence with the correct choice:

Corrected Sentence: "Choose the option that best suits one's needs."

This is the possessive form, showing that the needs belong to someone.

However, if you were talking about different types of options, you might use "ones" like this:

Different Context Example: "There are several options available, and the best ones suit everyone's needs."

In this sentence, "ones" correctly refers to multiple options (things), not the possessive form.

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