You are here

Reciprocal pronouns

Level: intermediate

We use the reciprocal pronouns each other and one another when two or more people do the same thing.

Peter and Mary helped each other.
     =
Peter helped Mary and Mary helped Peter.
We sent one another Christmas cards.
     =
We sent them a Christmas card and they sent us a Christmas card.
They didn't look at each other.
     =
X didn't look at Y and Y didn't look at X.

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

They helped to look after each other's children.
The group of students often stayed in one another's houses.

Note that we do not use reciprocal pronouns as the subject of a clause.

Reciprocal pronouns 1

GapFillTyping_MTU4ODI=

Be careful!

Reciprocal pronouns and plural reflexive pronouns (ourselves, yourselves, themselves) have different meanings:

John and Fred killed each other.
      =
John killed Fred and Fred killed John.
John and Fred killed themselves.
      =
John killed himself and Fred killed himself.

Reciprocal pronouns 2

MultipleChoice_MTU4ODM=

 

Comments

Since the distinction is disappearing in modern English, Can I always use "each other" ?

Hello Hamadmattar,

Yes. Both are considered interchangeable by modern grammarians. In fact, 'each other' is becoming more common and 'one another' is becoming rarer as time goes by.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I think there is something wrong in here.

Peter and Mary helped one another. => here only 2 people so the sentence should be :
=> Peter and Mary helped each other.

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. => in this context there are only 2 people so the sentence should be => They didn't look at each other.
This sentence is similar with an exercise number 4.

if I am wrong, kindly explain. Thanks

Anna

Hello Anna,

The first line of the explanation above explains this:

Traditionally, each other refers to two people and one another refers to more than two people, but this distinction is disappearing in modern English.

Your examples are examples of the distinction disappearing; the distinction is no longer a hard-and-fast rule, but is now only a tendency, and is slowly disappearing altogether.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Is it correct?:
We are just about to split the country between each other

regards,
nendan

Hi Nendan,

I would recommend saying 'split the country between us' here. The grammar explained on this page is more for actions that two different parties do to one another, whereas in what you write about, you are splitting a country. In a sense, you are separating from one another, but saying 'split the country between each other' sounds a bit odd (though comprehensible) to me.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi
if we said "we eat each other s food "
is this correct

Hello mona rafat,

The sentence is correct apart from lacking an apostrophe. It should be "We eat each other's food".

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hi
could you please check my sentence.
we were danced with one another.(we=more than two)
thank you

Hi,

Please don't ask the same question more than once. We will answer your question if we have time and asking it twice takes up additional time for us.

Best wishes,

Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

Pages