Hallo,
something I still don't understand in (british) English is the usage of 'one'. In old movies, or speeches by (older) people, it is normally used in the way 'one does', 'one knows' etc.
However, I've also heard it in mock Queen's speeches or when some person was to be portrayed as posh.
So I'm a bit confused; is it normal if one uses one? Does it sound - to a native speaker - strange, weird or normal?
In German, the equivalent to this usage of 'one' is 'you', and I'm always tempted to use this instead of 'one' as I feel very uncertain about it, and I've also heard native speakers using 'you' instead of 'one'.
Now, I would appreciate any help on this!
Best wishes,
Gunter
1 2 3
Hallo, something I still don't understand in (british) English is the usage of 'one'. In old movies, or speeches by (older) people, it is normally used in the way 'one does', 'one knows' etc.

Yes, it's less common than it used to be, which is why you mainly hear older people use it.
It's the impersonal pronoun, so "how does one do this?" means the same as "how is this done?", whereas using "you", "he" or "I" is referring to a specific person.
However, I've also heard it in mock Queen's speeches or when some person was to be portrayed as posh.

That is because of the perception of posh people using "one" in an affected way as a replacement for "I" or "you": "One finds those sort of events SUCH a bore, doesn't one?" Sounds a bit 1920s to me.
So I'm a bit confused; is it normal if one uses one? Does it sound - to a native speaker - strange, weird or normal?

My first example would sound normal, but slightly formal. From someone who is known for speaking in a precise manner it wouldn't sound out of place, but it is not colloquial. Most people say "you" where "one" would strictly be correct: "How do you get from London to Birmingham?" "You drive up the M40." Notice how both people use "you", but are not referring to anyone in particular. Compare "How do you* get from London to Birmingham?" "*I go up the M1 and M6, but most people would use the M40."
In German, the equivalent to this usage of 'one' is 'you', and I'm always tempted to use this instead of 'one' as I feel very uncertain about it, and I've also heard native speakers using 'you' instead of 'one'.

Interesting. I always considered the German equivalent of "one" to be "man": "Wie schreibt man das?" - "How does one spell that?". Although most people nowadays would say "How do you spell that?", or sometimes "How do I spell that?" Is "man" still in common use in German?
Now, I would appreciate any help on this! Best wishes, Gunter

Hope this helps!
mfg,
Tony

Tony Mountifield
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In German, the equivalent to this usage of 'one' is 'you', and I'm always tempted to use this instead of 'one' as I feel very uncertain about it, and I've also heard native speakers using 'you' instead of 'one'.

In fact, the German equivalent of "one" is "man" - only in very very casual (and anglicised) use have I ever heard "du" used in this sense.

To my ear using "one" sounds quite formal, but it's certainly not incorrect.

Regards, Einde O'Callaghan (German resident)
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In German, the equivalent to this usage of 'one' is ... I've also heard native speakers using 'you' instead of 'one'.

Interesting. I always considered the German equivalent of "one" to be "man": "Wie schreibt man das?" - "How does one ... "How do you spell that?", or sometimes "How do I spell that?" Is "man" still in common use in German?

Sorry - this was my mistake for being a bit imprecise. Of course 'man' is the right word in most cases in German, but 'Du' is sometimes used in certain circumstances.
AFAIK, it is rather colloquial. I didn't notice it before I came here; but in the UK I noticed a lot of Germans (including myself) using 'you' instead of 'one' and realised that this is a very literal translation from German.
Hope this helps!

It does!
Best wishes,
Gunter
something I still don't understand in (british) English is the usage of 'one'. In old movies, or speeches by (older) ... etc. However, I've also heard it in mock Queen's speeches or when some person was to be portrayed as posh.

It's a joke related to the Royal "We" (traditionally, the monarch never says "I", always "We") - pretentious members of the royal family have been caught saying "one" instead of "I".

John Briggs
In German, the equivalent to this usage of 'one' is ... I've also heard native speakers using 'you' instead of 'one'.

In fact, the German equivalent of "one" is "man" - only in very very casual (and anglicised) use have I ever heard "du" used in this sense.

I've heard it several times and never thought of it as anglicised - is it really? As I've written before, I thought it was a typical Germanism in English using the 'you'.
Regards, Einde O'Callaghan (German resident)

Where about?
Best wishes,
Gunter
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Saxony
Regards, Einde O'Callaghan
Where about?

Saxony

That's nice - I have spent almost eight years of my live in Leipzig!

Best wishes,
Gunter
It's a joke related to the Royal "We" (traditionally, the monarch never says "I", always "We")

But when do they do so? I've listened to some recordings of speeches delivered by the Queen and she always said "I", or "Prince Philip/the Duke of Edinburgh and I".
P.S. In fact, I watched "Shakespeare in Love", where Queen Elizabeth I/Judi Dench says, for instance, "I know who I am", "They're not acted for you, they're acted for me". Now, is that film really inaccurate or does/did the Queen/King use either "I" or "we" depending on the context? One would be grateful if someone could shed some light on the matter. (kidding, ça va sans dire)
Bye, FB

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