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I'm marking some student writing and I came across the following sentence. The sentence uses the word 'ones' to refer to children. It sounds wrong to me, but am not sure how to go about fixing it.

As children get older, the percentage of ones who own mobile phones rises.

Is this sentence technically correct?

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It does not sound natural to my (American) ear. I would prefer one of these options:

  • As children get older, the percentage who own mobile phones rises.
  • As children get older, the percentage of them who own mobile phones rises.

As an American, "cell phones" seems more natural than "mobile phones". The term "mobile phones" is more common in other countries. The term is becoming more popular in the United States, partly because many websites have "mobile" options.

I would expect the phrase "of ones who own mobile phones" to be used to restrict a dataset. For example:

American children can be categorized by whether they own mobile phones. Of ones who own mobile phones, 98% are more than two years old.

(I just made up this statistic.) In my example, "ones" is grammatically correct, but "those" is more natural.

| improve this answer | |
  • Even in the case of "the percentage of them", I would prefer "those". "As children get older, the percentage of those who own mobile phones rises." – user3169 Oct 13 '15 at 1:38

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