We use the reciprocal pronouns each other and one another when two or more people do the same thing. Traditionally, each other refers to two people and one another refers to more than two people, but this distinction is disappearing in modern English.

  • Peter and Mary helped one another.
    Peter helped Mary and Mary helped Peter.
  • We sent each other Christmas cards.
    We sent them a Christmas card and they sent us a Christmas card.
  • They didn’t look at one another.
    = He didn't look at her and she didn't look at him.

We also use the possessive forms each other’s and one another’s:

They helped to look after each other’s children.
We often stayed in one another’s houses.

NOTE: We do not use reciprocal pronouns as the subject of a clause.

Exercise

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Comments

Hello again naaka,

Both sentences are correct; which one is correct depends on what you mean. Using 'the' would mean that you assume that the reader knows which other learners you're speaking about, whereas omitting 'the' would indicate the opposite. See our Articles 1 page for more.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

i shaved myself . what's wrong in that

hi Marshood,
we don't use reciprocal pronouns with verbs that we used to do it usually
best regards

Hello marshood,

This is not how native speakers of standard British English speak. See our reflexive pronouns page for more details.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

'each other' refers to two people and 'one another' refers to more than two people.
In the example sentence, there are only two people but you have used one another
Peter and Mary helped one another, can you please explain. Thanks in advance.

Hi Peter,

Could you explain a little more about each other and one another ? If traditionally, each other refers to two people and one another refers to more than two people, but this distinction is disappearing in modern English, how I know when I use one of them?
Thank you.

Hello mastefani,

This means that you can use either 'each other' or 'one another' indistinctly. In other words, since they have become two different ways of saying the same thing, you can use whichever one you like. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

I'm trying to make the sentence from the grammar:

"Lines are adjacent to each other." Does it mean that is "A line is adjacent to a line" ?

Hello LuckyBC,

These two sentences seem to mean the same thing, though I might say 'Lines are adjacent to other lines' instead of your second sentence. Does that help?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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