Can you say "a one thing?"


In patent context, I came across an expression "a one end of a conductor and an other end of the conductor."

I am wondering why it is "a one end", instead of just "one end", since you don't need an article a/an in front of "one."


Posted 2016-01-28T01:39:44.653

Reputation: 31

2Well, we don't say "an other end" in present day English either (we say "another end"), so it may be language that is found in the particular context you mention. Can you link to the content? But no, in general we don't say a one thing. – GoDucks – 2016-01-28T02:23:51.177

1Maybe "at one end"? My guess is that it is a typo (also an other is not regularly used). Is it possible this was translated from another language? – user3169 – 2016-01-28T02:31:57.073

I guess it is kind of particular style of patent English.. still strange tho. Thanks. – user29434 – 2016-01-28T05:20:51.777



I think this is relating to the context in particular. It does not seem to be a typo. I would write:

"a 'one end' and an 'other end' of the conductor"

Or at least, this is how I interpret it. It seems to be referring to a 'one end' as a thing in particular with a specific meaning. Same for 'other end'.

To give an example of this sort of thing in common usage, "other half" is a phrase for a (romantic) long-term partner. One way to ask "is Peter in a relationship?" is "does Peter have an 'other half'?" In this case it would be certainly wrong to say "another half" because the phrase 'other half' has its own meaning. Similarly one might say "does that line have an other end?" rather than "another end".

If this is the case (which I strongly suspect it is, but cannot be sure without the rest of the document), it would have been better for the author to use single quotes, as I have done, but I still think it makes sense.

BigJ Pdog

Posted 2016-01-28T01:39:44.653

Reputation: 64


A noun can't have two determiners.

Articles are determiners, as are the following words: one, any, some, this, that, these, those, another, whichever, whatever, all, no, and probably more. Proper nouns count as having a "built-in" determiner.

If you want to use two of these words on the same noun, you must separate with of (and the/a/an must always immediately precede the noun):

any of the blocks, some of this soup, one of an end

Your original example is probably a typo as @user3169 suggests.


Posted 2016-01-28T01:39:44.653

Reputation: 31 841

1Possessive pronouns are also determiners. And something like this my answer is possible though archaic/poetic (although I occasionally use it because each determiner provides different information about the noun). – GoDucks – 2016-01-28T04:14:53.320

1I think most native speakers won't disagree that we can say any one thing or, perhaps some one thing. There is still some one thing your education lacks but I can't name it. Or: there are some two things... – GoDucks – 2016-01-28T04:16:50.600

Thanks all of you. Patent English is so strange that even natives use it wrong or can't understand it. – user29434 – 2016-01-28T05:26:16.437