Pronouns are very difficult to understand, especially when two of them look and sound similar but aren’t the same thing. One’s self and oneself are a great example of this.
It seems like these words are the same or very similar, but they aren’t. It is a common misconception that these words can be used interchangeably, but this isn’t the case. They are completely different from each other.
Oneself is a third-person singular reflexive pronoun while one’s self refers to describe a self in a psychological sense. They are not the same and should not be used in place of each other.
Oneself is a reflexive pronoun. It is used to describe someone’s own person. It is considered to be the nongendered version of the third-person singular pronoun to replace himself and herself.
It is easy to remember that this is the pronoun form because it is just one word like herself, himself, and themselves.
It is easy to deceive oneself.
It’s always important to love oneself.
Wasting important time is robbing oneself of becoming better.
There are several ways to express oneself.
It is incredibly important to be oneself at all times.
One’s self is not to be used as a pronoun. It should only be used when you are describing a self in a spiritual or psychological sense.
It can be used to describe part of someone such as their self-confidence or their self-respect. You could say something like “one’s self-respect diminishes when they mess up frequently.”
One’s becomes possessive and is referencing someone that is not currently the speaker. It is not common that this context will be used, so it will be easier to remember which form to use.
It is often believed that one’s self is a misspelling of oneself. While this is the case sometimes, one’s self can still be used properly in a sentence.
When spending time giving compassion to others, it is easy to ignore one’s self.
Tending to one’s self is important for mental healing.
It is important to remove one’s self from a situation before becoming overwhelmed.
Once lost, it’s hard to earn back one’s self-confidence.
Remembering the Difference
It is pretty easy to remember when you should use oneself or one’s self. You will only use oneself as a pronoun, not one’s self. One’s self is only used to describe a third party’s psychological self.
The best way to remember that oneself is a pronoun is to think of other third-person pronouns. Herself, himself, and themselves are all one-word pronouns. This means that you will use oneself as a pronoun instead of one’s self because it is just one word.
Oneself vs. Yourself
Oneself and yourself are both pronouns, but they are very different from each other. Yourself is a pronoun that refers to your own self or someone you are directly talking to.
For example: “Did you go to the movies by yourself?” You couldn’t say: “Did you go to the movies by oneself?” Oneself refers more to talking about someone who isn’t in the conversation.
You could say “If one loves oneself, that is what is most important.” In this case, you could also say “If you love yourself, that is what is most important.” Yourself can sometimes replace oneself, but oneself can’t replace yourself.
What is one’s own?
“One’s own” is used to describe somebody in general that owns something. It is quite formal and is often used with idioms. We use “one” when we don’t want to talk about the person we are talking to but rather what happens to a person in general.
Entry is at one’s own risk.
Such a fine feat it is to become one’s own boss.
The use of the pronoun “one” is becoming less and less common and is often replaced by “you”. It probably comes from the French language which uses the pronoun “on” in the same situation.
Oneself and one’s self are very often confused with each other. It is common to think that one’s self is just a misspelling of oneself, but this isn’t the case. The words have two different meanings and can’t be used in place of each other.