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Thread: one v.s. it

  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    one v.s. it

    Mrs. Yeats knew a spade when she saw it.
    https://books.google.com.tw/books?id=1lZdDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA124&dq=%22knew+a+spade+ when%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi5gZvlxvjjAhWRLqYKHb apAyUQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=%22knew%20a%20spade%20w hen%22&f=false
    He came of a line of people who knew a spade when they saw one.
    (Joint College Entrance Examination in Taiwan, 1983)

    In the above sentences, are "one" and "it" interchangeable?
    Last edited by sitifan; 10-Aug-2019 at 16:23.
    I need native speakers' help.

  2. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: one v.s. it

    Without affecting the basic meaning, yes. Both pronouns make reference to the same thing.

    But remember that you cannot interchange any two words without changing something.

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    #3

    Re: one v.s. it

    The "it" should refer to a particular spade; "one" to an abstract or non-specific one.

    In practice, though, the two pronouns are so close that you'll often see or hear one or the other, both ways.
    Retired proofreader. ESL tutor. Not a teacher. Nor a typist, evidently.

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