Which phrases (which are parallel to phrases in other languages, for example) would be correct and which not?

For example is it Ok to use "you can get x for free" when you refer to other people (when the person you are talking with is not looking for x but someone else is)?

  • The title of your question does not reflect its body. What are you actually asking for? Note that "is it ok?" questions are generally proofreading, which we don't do, and in this case you can look up you, find sense A2 in Cambridge and see that the use is fine. We consider English here and not other languages (Linguistics might be the right place for that, but don't take my word for it). The "What other forms?" question of the title is less easy to look up and a valid question here, I think.
    – Andrew Leach
    Oct 25, 2022 at 7:22
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    Of course, one is the direct equivalent of the French on, but its use is rather more formal in English. Oct 25, 2022 at 8:27
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    In certain contexts, you / one / we can use "we" instead of "one" to reference "anyone" as a non-specific "subject". People are really relaxed about such usages - in certain other contexts they might even use "they" the same way. Oct 25, 2022 at 11:10
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    One is the only permanently indefinite pronoun in English, though practically any pronoun (e.g, you) can be used in this sense. In addition, in U British speech, one is used instead of first person - One hardly knows what to say means "I'm speechless" in the right circles. Oct 25, 2022 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


There's no one pronoun that can translate on. Sometimes you works, and sometimes we works.

For your specific sentence, the only ways to say it are probably

you can get x for free


people can get x for free.

The sentence

we can get x for free

suggests that we can get x, but not everybody can.

But sometimes we works and you doesn't. For example, in the sentence

we don't know where elephants go to die

we works fine, but using you in that sentence might sugges that I know where the elephant graveyard is.

You can use people in both of those sentences, but I suspect people doesn't always work, either.

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    +1 And also sometimes they works too. They don't know who shot JFK, for example. And sometimes, so does one: One doesn't want to intrude, for example. Oct 25, 2022 at 17:00

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