I have been confused about the difference between "one to one" and "one on one".

Which one is more appropriate of the following?

We will have one to one meeting?

We will have one on one meeting?

  • I don't think there's any difference with meetings. In some other contexts, such as two opposing groups of football hooligans, for example, it might be a bit more likely you'd say they engaged in one on one fights (if in fact they did). But for most purposes, it's just a much less common version of one to one (they both simply mean there are only two participants interacting in whatever the activity is). Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 5:34
  • 1
    You typically wouldn't use either phrase for meetings. 'One-to-one' is rare and often technical in any case, you might say, 'On most websites there is a one-to-one relationship between a username and an account,' meaning that there is only one username per account, and only one account per username. As @FumbleFingers said, 'one-on-one' tends to suggest physical activity, or at least competition of some kind. For meetings, it would be more typical to say, '...a meeting, just you and I?' Also, say, 'Will we...' not 'We will'. Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 15:59
  • @GreatBigBore: They're all "up-and-coming" usages, but it seems clear "non-competitive" meetings and discussions favour to more than "competitive" fight Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 16:12
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    Regardless of whether you use to or on, you need an a: "We will have a one on one meeting."
    – Martha
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 21:33

6 Answers 6


one-on-one is used to talk about meetings between two people. When there is a discussion we can call it a one-on-one discussion; as an alternative for a face to face confrontation and in interviews (quite often political ones on TV).

one to one (with or without hyphens) is an expression often used in teaching. When students are paired in class; and in teaching one to one, i.e. a teacher with a private student (a client) or an individual student as opposed to a class. It is used in the campaign: "one to one computing" which promotes a computer for every student and teacher. In BrEng one-to-one (with hyphens) is used in the following: one-to-one discussion; one-to-one talk; and one-to-one interview as in "Interviews will be on a one-to-one basis." Finally, one-to-one in Mathematics: "Maths characterized by or involving the pairing of each member of one set with only one member of another set, without remainder."


I'd say the phrase 'one-on-one meeting' sounds much more natural.

The term 'one-to-one' is more often used in the with any of the following:

  • one-to-one relationship
  • one-to-one function
  • one-to-one mapping
  • Should someone say one-on-one lesson or one-to-one lesson? Why BNI meeting has to be "One-to-one" meeting? They won't say "One-on-One meeting?"
    – Hoy Cheung
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 3:55
  • @HoyCheung I'm not sure what BNI is, but perhaps this meeting is intended as a form of training or instruction (one trainer/instructor to one trainee/student). As Mari-Lou A's answer indicates, this would be an appropriate usage.
    – p.s.w.g
    Commented Aug 11, 2018 at 5:04

One-to-one is used to describe transfer and mapping. In mathematics, a one-to-one function is a function where every element in the range corresponds to one element in the domain. One-on-one is used to describe meetings between two individuals, as per your question.


It's more appropriate to say One on One. One to One sounds more like a technical term to denote mapping between two elements.


Both could be used interchangeably. However,'One-to-One' indicates a more formal tête-à-tête whereas 'One-on-One' refers to a confrontational situation between two people. A 'One-to-One' meeting definitely sounds more appropriate.

  • I agree that "one-on-one" has a more competitive nuance, probably because in sports "one-one-one" describes when just two people are playing against each other. Meeting "one-to-one" has a more cooperative tone, suggesting each will be supporting (or at least relating to) each other.
    – hardmath
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 13:33

One on one would be the appropriate use here.

When you are having a one on one meeting or discussion, typically it is a informal conversation or a touch base if you will.

One to one would signify a relationship between two entities.

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