It’s not just the loneliest number. These days, it’s a fairly lonely pronoun too as it appears to have fallen out of usage for the most part.
Honestly, how often when we are writing, even formally do we use the pronoun “one”? I personally try to as often as I can, but even when I do it sounds unnatural as though I’m being too pretentious – which is my natural state, so that doesn’t stop me.
But so often, when you read blogs, essays, or even newspaper and magazine articles, the opportunities one has to use this pronoun is replaced with an all encompassing “you”.
While I struggle with the correctness of my own and others grammar – yes, I’m one of those – I do recognize how antiquated one can sound when using this pronoun correctly. On the other hand, in certain cases – especially opinion pieces, editorials, and other very passionate, personal writing – an all encompassing “you” can come off sounding accusatory. For instance, someone may say, “You have to wonder what the mayor was thinking when he voted to raise taxes”, but I may agree with a tax hike if it pays for other services, so no, I don’t have to wonder that.
I tend to cringe when I read or hear people make this replacement, just as I would cringe if someone were to misuse subject verb agreement, because in my mind, I know it is a grammatical error. But these days, so many grammatical errors, new words, and an abundance of acronyms are accepted, that perhaps it is no longer contested. Perhaps teachers of language arts and english are teaching that either usage is correct.
Reader, what do you think? Which is correct? Which should be correct? Which do you use?