It is important that one’s decision of their own life is respected.

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    Ashley, we now have a beta site more specifically tailored to English Language Learners. I have voted up, but, here on ELU, many might consider the question too basic, other than a duplicate of a preceding one. At any rate, be aware that the ELL site exists, have a look and make yourself comfortable. Thank you. – user19148 Feb 12 '13 at 0:43
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    @Carlo_R. Do not about Ashley, but definitely help me. Did not know about it. Sr. do you thing that someone with a B2/C1 English level will fit better on ELU or ELL? – dreamcrash Feb 12 '13 at 2:15
  • Hello @dream, B2/C1 says nothing per se, but take a look and make yourself comfortable. – user19148 Feb 12 '13 at 3:50

It is important that one's decisions…

This uses one in its sense of a singular third person pronoun for statements that the speaker holds apply to all people. It uses it in the genitive, to talk about the decisions of such people.

It's more often used in a rather formal register, and may seem stuffy to some.

All fine.

…of their own life…

This uses the "epicene their". This is a use of their that refers to a single person in the third person, irrespective of gender. Starting from about 1795, there have been people complaining about this. However, it's been defended for as long, and used by great writers for much longer.

Again, fine.

So, as to the two specific things you asked about, both are correct.

However, "…decision of their own life…" is unusual, both in the of and in the singular decision. It suggests perhaps one's judgement of one's own life's story, though it probably means one's several different decisions about what one should do in life. It does neither clearly. Hence "…decisions about their own life…" would be better.

Also, while both one's and their are each okay as they are used here, the switching from one to the other is perhaps better avoided:

It is important that one's decisions about one's own life are respected.


It is important that someone's decisions about their own life are respected.

Or to make the same statement in the third-person plural:

It is important that people's decisions about their own lives are respected.

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  • I would use the subjunctive, but I am French! – The Frog Feb 12 '13 at 8:43

The correct form is It is important that one's decision about one's own life be respected, and this is not a quotation of the English Royal Family.

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The use of "their" has become more and more common. Granted, a second "one's" would be better, but "their" is fine. Again, it depends on the register.

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