‘One’ vs ‘Won’: What’s the Difference?

By
Shanea Patterson,
updated on
March 13, 2023

Have you seen and heard the words ‘one’ and ‘won’ and wondered what the difference is? We’ll help clear that up in this article, plus teach you how to use them both in a sentence correctly.

Need a quick answer? Here is it:

  • ‘One’ is a noun and refers to the number one, but it could also refer to a non-specific person or a thing mentioned previously.
  • ‘Won’ is the past tense of the verb ‘win.’

These words are considered homophones, which means they sound the same, but they’re spelled differently and have different definitions. Therefore, you should avoid using them interchangeably.

Word Choice: ‘One’ vs. ‘Won’

Since you know ‘one’ and ‘won’ sound the same but have different definitions, you know that they can’t be used interchangeably.

So, which word should you use?

Well, that depends on the context.

If you’re talking about a non-specific person or a thing mentioned previously, you will use ‘one.’

However, if you’re talking about the past tense of ‘win,’ use ‘won.’

These words are considered homophones because they sound the same but look different and have different meanings.

Difference Between 'Won' and 'One'

The most obvious difference between these two words is their spelling. But they also have different definitions.

‘Won’ is the past tense of ‘win.’

For example, you might hear someone say:

“I won my championship basketball game last night! I’m so happy.”

‘One’ could mean one of two things. It could refer to a non-specific person.

For example, you might hear someone say:

“One must behave according to the rules.”

Or it could also refer to something someone mentioned before.

For example, you might hear someone say:

“We bought ice cream from the ice cream truck. I got you one.”

Definition of ‘One’: What Does ‘One’ Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘one’ as:

  • Being a single unit or thing.

It could also mean:

  • Being one in particular
  • Being what is indicated
  • Being the same in kind or quality
  • Being a unified entity of two or more components
  • Being in agreement or a union
  • Some
  • Being a certain individual specified by name
  • Only
  • The first whole number above zero
  • The number denoting unity
  • The first in a set or series
  • An article of clothing of a size designated one
  • A single person or thing
  • A one-dollar bill
  • A certain indefinitely indicated person or thing
  • An individual of a vaguely indicated group (anyone at all)
  • Used as a third-person substitute for a first-person pronoun
  • A single instance of a specified action

Definition of ‘Won’: What Does ‘Won’ Mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, the word ‘won’ can be defined as:

  • The past tense of ‘win’ and the basic monetary unit of North Korea and South Korea.

The definition of ‘win’ is:

  • To get possession of by effort or fortune and to obtain by work (earn).

It could also mean:

  • To gain in or as if in battle or contest
  • To be the victor in
  • To make friendly or favorable to oneself or to one’s cause (often used with over)
  • To induce one to accept oneself in marriage
  • To obtain (something, such as ore, coal, or clay) by mining
  • To prepare (a vein or bed) for regular mining
  • To recover (metal) from ore
  • To reach by an expenditure of effort
  • To gain victory in a contest (succeed)
  • To succeed in arriving at a place or a state
  • The place at the finish (as of a horse race)

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘One’ and ‘Won’

Are you wondering how to pronounce these two words? Here’s a short guide.

To pronounce these words correctly, use the phonetic spelling:

WUN

How to Use ‘One’ and ‘Won’ in a Sentence

We’ve learned the meaning and the correct pronunciation of both words. Now let’s see some sentence examples.

One

  • My mom bought a whole box of donuts from Dunkin yesterday. Today, there’s only one left, which isn’t surprising. We all love donuts!
  • Mrs. Messick only gave us one homework assignment for the whole week. It’s such a huge relief because we’ve been swamped with schoolwork all year long.
  • I have a lot of friends, but only one best friend. She has multiple best friends, but I just can’t have more than one.
  • You’re the only one I’ve been dating this year. I was wondering if you wanted to make it official and exclusively date each other.
  • One must always follow the rules of the organization as long as he or she belongs to it. Otherwise, you may be expelled.

Won

  • I’ve been playing this game for a month, and I finally won last night. I can’t believe it!
  • We were so close to winning the same way we won last year – by just two points. This year we won by only one point.
  • We’ve won every single game since the beginning of the season. We’re on such a lucky streak.
  • We couldn’t have won that game without you, Mickey. You’re the best player we’ve had at this high school in a while.
  • We shouldn’t have won the science competition. We cheated, and we could get expelled from the university for it. We need to tell the truth about what happened.

Final Thoughts on ‘One’ and ‘Won’

To recap, we learned the following:

  • ‘One’ is a noun and refers to the number one, but it could also refer to a non-specific person or a thing mentioned previously.
  • ‘Won’ is the past tense of the verb ‘win.’

These words are considered homophones, which means they sound the same, but they’re spelled differently and have different definitions. Therefore, you should avoid using them interchangeably.

If you ever get stuck on anything, don’t be afraid to come back to review what you learned. We’ve also got a whole library of content on other confusing words and phrases you might see as you’re learning the language. Check it out anytime.

Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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