Oneself vs. one’s self

The two-word phrase one’s self is only justifiable when self is used in a spiritual, philosophical, or psychological sense. In all other cases, one’s self can be replaced with the pronoun oneself.


For example, oneself could replace one’s self in these sentences:

There are individual chapters devoted to how to attire one’s self for such things as an art gallery, a barbecue, the country club. [Wall Street Journal]

Very seldom does the opportunity come along to immerse one’s self in the life and work of a major American composer. [Washington Examiner]

In today’s age, calling one’s self an American seems to come second to a party affiliation. [Daily Athenaeum]

And in these cases, one’s self works because self is meant in a spiritual, psychological, or philosophical sense:

[B]ut they tie into an uncritical assumption that one’s online self is a direct replica of one’s self in the real world. [The Atlantic]

For him, being a renegade is about staying true to one’s self. [Clarksdale Press Register]

But in examining the universal need to define one’s self through narrative, it also explores the darker side of storytelling. [New York Times]

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