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I saw a tow truck with a slogan running the length of the bed.

Were the "ones" to call

What drew my attention was the past tense without an apostrophe, and the inappropriate use of quotation marks. But it made me wonder, what would the proper wording of one be? Is it, "We are the one to call", or "We are the one's to call"?

Or does it depend on what type or size of company it is? For example, if there are multiple tow trucks, and drivers, is the wording different than if it is a single driver and tow truck. Would that make it either, "I am the one to call", or "We are the one's to call"? Or would the company be singular, and "We are the one to call"?

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Welcome to EL&U! No need to sign your posts here, your name and gravatar automatically show up at the bottom of everything you post. –  Jim Nov 10 '11 at 20:39
    
If you like that odd use of quotation marks, you'll love the "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, where the author interprets instances from the wild as scare quotes, often to humorous effect. Sometimes, you can tell that the quote marks were intended for emphasis or to mark the word or phrase as different from surrounding text - I think this is the case with your "ones" - but it still can be a puzzling typographical "style" :o) –  aedia λ Nov 10 '11 at 20:45
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Unless the name of the company is "Wuns Towing Service", the quotes around "ones" is the standard error of quoting for emphasis. And the missing apostrophe in "We're" makes me suspect the latter. –  JeffSahol Nov 10 '11 at 20:51
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3 Answers 3

Ones in this case is a plural, not a possessive, so an apostrophe is inappropriate. Whether you need the plural or not is mostly a matter of preference/interpretation: is the company the one to call (singular), or do you call the people at the company (plural)? Strictly speaking, both are correct.

We're the ones to call
We're the one to call

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Here are enough instances of We are the ones to... in Google Books to show it's not a particularly rare usage (if you follow the link, you'll see that We are the one to... is below the radar there).

I can see how some people get confused about whether it should be one or ones. Particularly Americans, many of whom are quite fixed in their belief that companies should always be referred to in the singular. Brits are more relaxed about this. But certainly there's no reason to even consider one's - unless the company in question happens to be Apostrophe Protection Society slyly trying to unload some surplus stock!

From the British perspective there's nothing at all wrong with either form because we're used to thinking of companies as either singular or plural, depending on context. In this case, the preceding We is easily enough to make us happy with the plural. In principle, those Americans who balk at Microsoft are a big company should require the singular in OP's context, but I suspect that in practice many of them would prefer to overlook the matter in this case.

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Welcome, Jack. A good question, as far as I'm concerned. Yes, dodgy punctuation of we're, but The ones is fine. Consider, for example, this from 1901: She ought to blame the ones, and to punish the others.

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I think the OP makes a valid point about whether it's the company that the slogan refers to rather than a bunch of individuals. Imagine the slogan went something like 'Of all the companies out there, we are the one to call' - wouldn't that be valid? –  Snubian Nov 10 '11 at 21:42
    
@Snubian: If it meant 'We are the one company to call', then yes. But 'We're the ones' is a perectly grammmatical, if informal, sentence. The size of the company is irrelevant. Two people could call themselves 'the ones'. (There is, incidentally, no need to write it as 'one's' as the OP does.) –  Barrie England Nov 10 '11 at 22:07
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