Can you explain to me when it is more appropriate to use it or one in the following sentence?

One/it should warn about the conflicts.

I don't think there's a big deal using one or another because the meaning will be exactly the same.

  • 2
    There are very few contexts where "one" and "it" are interchangeable.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 2 '12 at 20:43
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    – RegDwigнt
    Jul 2 '12 at 21:26
  • I think neither this question can be tagged with [usage] nor its title can be "Usage: One vs it", nor it is possible to base a comparison ("vs") between the two pronoun. @RegDwight
    – user19148
    Jul 2 '12 at 21:26
  • What Colin said. I think there are no contexts where "one" and "it" are interchangeable as subjects of "should warn". This question is General Reference. Jul 2 '12 at 23:33

The meaning is not exactly the same. One used as a pronoun indicates an unspecified single person, whereas it indicates a specific object or collective.

It's hard to tell exactly what the context is here with such a short quote, but

One should warn about the conflicts.

means that someone should warn others about the conflicts.

It should warn about the conflicts.

means that a device or software program, or perhaps office or organization, which was previously being discussed, should warn about the conflicts.


"One" should be used exclusively to refer to people (or people-like things - pets, etc). "It" should never be used to refer to people.

Caveat: "One" can refer to non-people-like things in cases like, "One should warn about conflicts and the other should do something else".

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