What is the difference between the "next one" and just "next"?

Let's suppose we have a lot of people in a queue, and as one person comes, someone says "the next one is white, tall, has black eyes, is slim... etc". So I understand I needed to use "one", because I'm describing someone or something.

Now, if it was just people coming in a queue, I could just say "next", no need to use one, since I'm not describing it or something.

Did I get something right?

  • How would you be using "next"? As a command ("Next!") or in a longer sentence ("Next is Jim, followed by...") – phenry Feb 20 '14 at 19:54
  • You can still use "next" if you are describing things. "The first was old, the next young, the first wrinkled, the next smooth." Much like the "the one ... the other..." construct. – pavja2 Feb 20 '14 at 20:00
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    Next by itself seems to be truncated from a longer phrase, probably 'the next person in line please step forward' or something similar. – Anonym Feb 20 '14 at 20:48
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    In your example, there is no difference, you could unambiguously say "the next is white, tall". "next" then assumes all the grammatical roles of the omitted word(s) - it's a limiting adjective and a pronoun in one. – quadruplebucky Feb 21 '14 at 0:53

Traditionally, "next" is used as an adjective:

next — 2. Immediately following, as in time, order, or sequence

The next person is white, tall, has black eyes, is slim.

The next [person] is white, tall, has black eyes, is slim.

But some dictionaries include the following definition:

next — noun — The next person or thing: The next will be better.

So using "next" on its own is becoming increasingly common and will normally be acceptable.

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