I realize that a couple of questions have already been posted on this topic. The ones I took a look at have been listed below:

Non-numerical use of “один”

Я вижу + numeral + noun - governed by what case?

Neither specifically answered a question that was raised for me when I read the following in the book, Master the Basics: Russian:

In Russian, the number "one" changes for gender -- it agrees with the noun which it qualifies. Oddly enough, it also has a plural form which is used with nouns that exist only in the plural .... (p. 157)

It then refers the reader back to a section that includes a list of words that are found in plural form only. Using some of those words on the list as examples, the following is my interpretation of what they mean when paired with "одни":

одни очки = one (pair of) glasses
одни брюки = one (pair of) trousers
одни ножницы = one (pair of) scissors

That all seems pretty straightforward, but then I come to words such as:

кавычки (quotation marks)
скобки (parentheses)

What if I needed to convey "one quotation mark," or "one parenthesis?" If I add "одни" before the words above, am I conveying "one quotation mark" or "one (pair of) quotations marks?"

Similarly, with the following, does the addition of "одни" in front of the noun convey "one election," "one clock," and "one funeral?"

выборы (elections)
часы (clock, watch)
похороны (funeral)

If I needed to specify "a pair of watches," I suppose I could use "пара часов." Short of that, I am assuming that "одни часы" most commonly means "one clock" or "one watch."

All of the above is actually a bit of a side question that came up as I was organizing my thoughts for the following:

Is the word "одни" exclusively used for words that are only found in the plural?

In other words, a Russian would never use "одни" with a word found in both singular and plural, unless the meaning of "some" was intended, correct? I've added some examples below and my interpretation of what they mean. If I am wildly off mark, please let me know:

один мир = one world
одни миры = some worlds

одна женщина = one woman
одни женщины = some women

одно окно = one window
одни окна = some windows

Is my understanding of how Russians use "одни" correct?

  • I appreciate your edit, @Dmitry, but what, exactly, did you change?
    – Lisa Beck
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 19:51
  • Click on the "edited ... mins ago" link above my avatar and see. ;)
    – Dmitry
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 19:54
  • @Dmitry Wow. That was super cool. I never knew that existed before. What a helpful tool. I can't wait to go back and look at other edits some have made to my posts. I am sure it will be educational. Thanks again.
    – Lisa Beck
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 1:51

4 Answers 4


As for скобки и кавычки, these are regular nouns and you can use them in singular: одна скобка, одна кавычка.

Your last example for одни meaning some is valid only when coupled with contradistinction:

Одни женщины добры, другие - злы. – Some women are kind, others are evil. CORRECT

Некоторые женщины – добры. – Some women are kind. CORRECT

Одни женщины добры.WRONG

  • 1
    Why, grammatically the phrase 'Одни женщины добры' is absolutely correct.
    – Manjusri
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 16:36
  • "Одни женщины добры" is perfectly correct, when you are trying to say "Only women are kind."
    – Dima
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 14:59
  • Well... Yes. But I noticed that stress means a lot. Одни женщины добры is ok. But Одни женщины добры sounds wrong unless followed with contradistinction. Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 19:28
  • I found this discussion thread here particularly enlightening, regardless of any disagreement(s). For one thing, it made me curious enough to want to look some things up, and I'm beginning to realize that even though you could use одни with a noun like женщины, most of the time, there are probably better, more common ways of conveying something such as "some women." So, thank you for contributing.
    – Lisa Beck
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 2:07
  • Overall, a lot of good answers here, many of which contributed to a greater understanding of some subtleties of the Russian language. I actually wish I could give the green check mark to more than one, but I think this one does the best job of answering the question(s) I presented in my post. An honorable mention definitely goes to ACKA for using translations of well-known box office hits. I especially enjoyed the inclusion of "Четыре свадьбы и одни похороны." Well done, ACKA.
    – Lisa Beck
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 2:15

There is another meaning of одни + plural. It means only in some contexts.
For instance:

одни женщины = women only.
В доме жили одни женщины = In the house there were only women.

одни окна = only windows.
За день мы вымыли лишь одни окна = We've washed only windows for the day.


Here is my two cents on subject: одни could be also used as an adjective:

Вайолет думала, что трое детей, одни в тесном туннеле, с каминными щипцами в руках, может быть, окажутся более подготовленными к неожиданностям, чем трое детей в тех же обстоятельствах с пустыми руками. [Лемони Сникет. Липовый лифт (А. Ставиская, 2005)]

Violet was thinking that three children alone in a dark hallway holding fire tongs were perhaps a bit more prepared than three children alone in a dark hallway holding nothing at all. [Lemony Snicket. The Erzatz Elevator (2001)].

The title of a film Home alone was also translated as Один дома, and here один is an adjective too. Speaking of films I'd like to mention one more filme title, to be exact, Four weddings and a funeral. In Russia it was called "Четыре свадьбы и одни похороны". In here using "одни" was used in order to specify that there was only one funeral as a numeral.


The word один (одна, одно, одни) changes according to a declention paradigm of a word it describes in any of its meanings (which rarely is used as an indefinite article in Western langauges). The meanings are:

1) some (as opposed to (an)other ones):

Одни люди умные, другие - не всегда.

Cf. the usage of this word as an attribute for an object:

Одних людей ценят, других - не всегда. (Animate object)

Одни вещи ценят(ся), другие - не всегда. (Inanimate object).

2) sheer, mere, only, nothing but, etc.

Тут одни гастарбайтеры. Там один контрафакт.

As for an attribute of a pluralia tantum noun, such as, e.g. одни ножницы, it is never used in singular, because there no singular form of a pluralia tantum exists:

Одни ножницы острые, другие - тупые.

На прилавке - одни ножницы.

As it was said, the words кавычки and скобки are not pluralia tantum in Russian.

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