If you have three, you have three. If you have two, you have two. If you have one, you have none. What is it?

  • 42
    $\begingroup$ Lays Potato chips: you can't have just one. $\endgroup$ – TTT May 12 '16 at 20:43
  • 13
    $\begingroup$ Backups! One is none! $\endgroup$ – jpaugh May 12 '16 at 21:50
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Well?  Is there an answer? $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook May 16 '16 at 5:48
  • $\begingroup$ @PeregrineRook There are now 14. What more do you want? :-) $\endgroup$ – GOTO 0 May 17 '16 at 8:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Only one answer really fits though... $\endgroup$ – ffao May 17 '16 at 23:47

12 Answers 12


This is kind of a play on words, but:

If you have 3 options, you have 3 options. If you have 2 options you have 2 options. If you have only 1 option, you don't have any options.

Along similar lines, this works too:

If you have 3 choices, you have 3 choices. If you have 2 choices you have 2 choices. If you have only 1 choice, you don't have a choice.


If you say the riddle aloud, the answer could be:



"one" sounds like "won". If you have 2 or 3 competitors, then you have 2 or 3 competitors. But if you have "won", then you have none.


What about

Stack Exchange Reputation Score?

If you have three, you have three.

If you have two, you have two,

but if you have one, you have none.

as it is the default rep score here. If you have 1 rep score you really have none.

  • $\begingroup$ well i got 100 just for joining, but hey, that's SE :) $\endgroup$ – Andrei C May 13 '16 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ Cause you've been in the network for a while ;) $\endgroup$ – Arun Xavier May 13 '16 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ But we all know that, in general,  if you have $n$, then you really have only $n-1$. $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook May 13 '16 at 19:23

It may be

the number of consecutive consonants at the beginning of the word for the numeral.

↑↑↑     = 3 (three)
↑↑      = 2 (two)
-       = 0 (zero, i.e., none)

And so it turns out that, if you have none (or zero), you have one — which somehow seems appropriate.


It probably isn't, but could be:

Neighboring cells in Conway's Game of Life


A cell with two or three live neighbors will be alive in the next iteration, while a cell with only one live neighbor will die.


It is a


In fact those are

Three repetitions, repetitions, repetitions.

Two repetitions, repetitions.

No repetition.



A Guinea Pig. Several Guinea Pigs will thrive, whereas a single guinea pig will become lonely, and soon die.

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    $\begingroup$ That's why you take your guinea pig to a stud farm. $\endgroup$ – paste May 12 '16 at 20:39

Is it a



If you have triplets, you have three multiples. If you have twins, you have two multiples. But if you have a single child, you have no multiples.

Original answer, not correct by the precise definition (thanks @Will):



If you have three organisms with the same DNA, you have three clones. But if you have one organism it is not a clone.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is pedantic in the first place, but I'd argue if you have three you'd only have two. $\endgroup$ – Will May 12 '16 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't that mean you can't have one, then? $\endgroup$ – paste May 12 '16 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @paste: Depends how you interpret the riddle. If you interpret it as if you have X [babies], you have Y [multiples] then it's consistent. $\endgroup$ – Mark Peters May 12 '16 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @MarkPeters Then the question would be "What are they?" $\endgroup$ – paste May 12 '16 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkPeters In TTT's case, his/her answer conforms to the format "If you have three X, you have three X" whereas yours is "If you have three X, you have three Y". $\endgroup$ – paste May 12 '16 at 21:37

It is a...

Collection of things


If you have three, you have three things, if you have two, you have two things, but if you have just one, you just own a thing, and it's not really a collection at all.


It may be about physical sharing, and telling other people what you have. If you have more than one unit of something you can inform your surroundings on this and share it with them.
On the other hand: if you have only one, telling others might induce envy and you may be better off not mentioning it.


Thinking visually, it could be

corners in the numerals 1, 2, 3 when drawn by hand. 3 has the upper right, middle left, and lower right; 2 has upper right and lower left; but 1 is usually a straight line.


The solution is



You don't offer the last one.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The only sense that I can make of this is that it's backwards: if you have three, then you have two, and if you have two, then you have one, but if you have one, then you still / truly / absolutely / definitely have one. $\endgroup$ – Peregrine Rook May 14 '16 at 21:57
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know what you mean. I explain myself better: If someone ask you for a cigarette i tipically offer one unless there's only one remaining. In that case i keep it for myself. $\endgroup$ – Mauro Sampietro May 16 '16 at 7:13

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