I submit for your inspection one John H. Watson.

The Perils of Sherlock Holmes

What is the meaning of this sentence?

  • 1
    Please edit your post to include the source and context for the sentence (it doesn't make sense and context may help).
    – mkennedy
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 4:19

2 Answers 2


The full quote is from The Perils of Sherlock Holmes, and is actually:

I submit for your inspection one John H. Watson.

It's a very formal and primarily British way of saying:

I would like to introduce you to a person named John H. Watson, so that you can understand and learn of him.

It is a way of preparing someone mentally to study and evaluate. The author is submitting it to the reader for inspection, in this case a character named John H. Watson.

  • 1
    primarily British Hardly.
    – Ricky
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 21:01
  • 1
    Not just British. The classic American television series "The Twilight Zone" regularly began with the host using very similar phrasing, "Submitted for your approval ..." followed by some introduction of the main character or events of the story.
    – Jay
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 21:29

"One" is often used like this when telling someone about another person, by name, for the first time. You could read it "one John H. Watson" as "a certain person named John H. Watson." It works for the same reason that we use indefinite articles when introducing a thing and definite articles after that:

Goldilocks found a cottage. She gathered up her courage and opened the door of the cottage.

We use definite articles, and proper nouns like people's names, to refer to specific things that our listeners understand. If our listeners are unfamiliar with this person or thing, though, these specific identifiers aren't useful to them. If I say "Look at John," you might say "What? John who?" But if I say "Look at this person named John," you understand that you're being introduced. And that's essentially what this passage says.

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