Is there a single word (similar to Russian свой for those familiar with Russian) which I could put into this sentence?

By tomorrow, one of us will see the money in __ account.

meaning that

By tomorrow either you will see the money in your account or I will see the money in my account.

  • I think it should be "will see the money in ... account" rather than "will see the money on ... account". Writing or saying "will see the charge on ... account" seems normal, though. But that may be just for American English.
    – user21497
    Nov 22, 2012 at 13:07
  • @BillFranke: Please feel free to correct the mistakes.
    – Quassnoi
    Nov 22, 2012 at 14:33
  • I suggested a correction, but I'm not sure it's necessary for British English. None of the BrE speakers have jumped to its defense, but they may. I found nothing else amiss in your question, and if "on" is acceptable to BrE speakers, then there's nothing at all to correct. I'm not trying to find fault here, just saying that "in" is the standard American English preposition in this case.
    – user21497
    Nov 22, 2012 at 15:02

5 Answers 5


I would use the singular their for this purpose:

One of us will see the money in their account.

It's useful for purposes besides referring to someone of unspecified gender.

EDIT: Upon further consideration, my modification to Andrew Leach's answer is just as good (and better for people uncomfortable with the singular they in this context).

One of us will see the money in our own account.

To me, our suggests a joint account, but adding own removes that implication, and suggests a single-owner account. Our own can be used for joint ownership, but only if this is implied by the context.

  • I'm not a native speaker, but doesn't "their" or "his" sound peculiar when referring to "mine or yours"? It's unspecified person as well, not only the gender.
    – Quassnoi
    Nov 22, 2012 at 12:14
  • It doesn't sound peculiar to me; it was the obvious answer. But I suspect other native English speakers (who might not have grown up using the singular they) may feel differently. Nov 22, 2012 at 12:23
  • That should be the ultimate in using their for its political correctness -- to mean (one of) us! What next?! :)
    – Kris
    Nov 22, 2012 at 15:49
  • I find it quite tricky to know whether I'd actually use our or their. If we were both the same sex, I'd definitely use his (or her if I'd had a sex-change!), but in "mixed-sex" contexts I suspect I'd almost randomly alternate between our/their. In which case my choice might well be influenced by how "close" I felt I was to the other party (either in general, or at the time of speaking). Nov 22, 2012 at 18:34

You could use our or his.

Their is now standard for a singular possessive where the sex of the referent is not important, but because you are speaking amongst yourselves about yourselves, use our in much the same way:

By tomorrow, one of us will see the money on our account.

Alternatively, use his as a gender-inclusive pronoun, or her if you both female:

By tomorrow, one of us will see the money on his account.

  • The first suggests a joint account. Nov 22, 2012 at 12:05
  • But if those speaking amongst themselves don't have a joint account, it can't refer to that.
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 22, 2012 at 12:07
  • 1
    Certainly if you say, "we'll take you in one of our cars" does not suggest joint ownership of cars. So "by tomorrow, we'll see the money in one of our accounts" would mean exactly what the OP is trying to say. But I have the same feeling as @Barrie: the first does indeed suggest a joint account. Nov 22, 2012 at 12:20
  • @PeterShor Hmm. That swaps the "one" from "of us" to "our accounts". Interesting. I think, on further reflection, that that's the best solution; and if I were to use "one of us" then "his" should go with that. Consequently I shall delete this and upvote Cerberus' answer.
    – Andrew Leach
    Nov 22, 2012 at 12:31
  • 1
    Actually, I think you could save your answer by saying "One of us will see the money in our own account". Nov 22, 2012 at 12:35

This is more of a distributive than a reflexive (or reciprocal) pronoun. However, that usually applies each of a plural subject singularly, which together are still many. You want something that picks out just one, and still has grammatical agreement. This is perhaps easier done with rephrasing, but many native speakers will use something involving their or own, or sometimes both.

You will not see an exact English equivalent to Russian свой because it has grammatical agreement with the subject of the sentence no matter what the person is. Or at least, that’s what they say here.

It looks to me like it can not only match any one of the plural subject, it can match each of them separately. If so, that makes it a distributive pronoun, and English doesn’t really have one of those. We tend to add words like own or even respectively, but that doesn’t work everywhere.

English either, which means just one of two (rarely, more) things, normally take singular agreement, which may perhaps be what is troubling you here. One solution is to apply own, like this:

  • By tomorrow, either of us will see money in our own account.
  • By tomorrow, either of you will see money in your own account.
  • By tomorrow, either of them will see money in their own account.

No, it isn’t always a perfect solution, but at least and there may be a bit of ambiguity left, but at least that way you don’t have to switch persons for the account. The own lets you use a plural pronoun but apply it singularly to just one of them.

The referenced Wikipedia article on distributive pronouns neglects to name a much closer language to English than Hebrew has one having such a thing. Spanish has words corresponding to English each (cada), both (ambos), and all (todos), but which applies distributively to just one per. That is sendos, which means one for each of two or more persons or things. It has no exact one-for-one translation into English, no moreso than does your Russian word. (Like the Spanish word for bothambossendos is defective in that it has no corresponding singular. It is inherently plural.)

Normally, both in English is also automatically plural because by default it applies to each together. Sometimes, however, it can apply to each of two things singularly. So sometimes we do use both distributively, as in:

  • I gave both (of them) dollar of their own.

which has the sense of each of them separately receiving a dollar, but talks about them in the plural. That’s because own somewhat distributes to each:

  • He gave each of us our own dollar.

That clearly talks about individual ownership.

However, in your Russian case, that doesn’t quite apply, because it is an exclusive individual, someone this way:

  • One of us will keep it for our very own.

That’s not an altogether uncommon pattern in English, although it may be unsettling to some fussbudgets. It’s certainly a whole lot better than saying any of:

  • One of us will keep it for that person’s own.
  • One of us will keep it for their own.

Although that does lead to one possible alternate rephrasing of your original to dodge the issue of which pronoun (well, possessive determiner) in the second part by using a possessive noun instead:

  • By tomorrow, either of us will see it in that person’s account.
  • By tomorrow, either of you will see it in that person’s account.
  • By tomorrow, either of them will see it in that person’s account.

That seems a bit unnatural to me, though. It is perhaps especially odd to use that sort of thing in the first or second persons. That normally is for something away from the speaker, and you just can’t say *in this person’s account for talking about oneself.


I think all you can do is fill the gap with the other’s. As a native speaker, I would probably express the whole thing a little differently, for example:

By tomorrow the money will be credited either to your account or to mine. Either way, one of us will see it on the other’s account.

  • The first sentence was actually just an example of what I wanted to say. Doesn't "the other's account" mean that "I will see the money on your account and vice versa"?
    – Quassnoi
    Nov 22, 2012 at 11:41
  • In this context it means either you will see it on my account or I will see it on yours. If that's not what you're looking for, then perhaps someone with a knowledge of the Russian word can help. Nov 22, 2012 at 11:44
  • I think question was asking about the non-reciprocal sense. This isn't called a reflexive pronoun, but I can't recall the right term.
    – tchrist
    Nov 22, 2012 at 14:53
  • @tchrist: I answered before OP edited the question. Nov 22, 2012 at 14:58
  • The term I was looking for was distributive pronoun. The Russian word seems to be that and more, however, as I explain at some length in my answer.
    – tchrist
    Nov 22, 2012 at 15:45

Conventionally, his, her, or its is used to refer to one where it means one instance of something (as opposed to impersonal one, where the possessive is one's). See Fowler's Modern English Usage on "One" below.

By tomorrow, one of us will see the money on his account.

Use her if both of us are female.

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