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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

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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

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Comments

Sir, Each Other refers to two people and One Another refers to more than two people. But in the above example [ Peter and Mary helped one another ]. Peter and Mary are two persons helped each other. [Peter and Mary helped each other] may be the correct ans? Same case with the [They didn’t look at one another].

Hello The_Unknown,

As the information on the page says, this is a distinction which used to be important but which is disappearing in modern English. The information on LearnEnglish reflects how the language is actually used today, and this is why these examples are given.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

It's not really related to the topic but I was incorrect on item 4, "I gave him a present and he gave me a present. We_____________."
I put in "gave each other a present." But when I tried "presents" instead of "a present," it was correct. Can someone explain how this works?

Hello Keng41,

Both 'a present' and 'presents' are correct in this sentence. The key is obviously lacking that alternative but you can give yourself a pat on the back - your answer was correct.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much.
:)

The animals looked at each other | looked at one another. Why it does not score me

Hello ihsan69,

Both of those answers are correct. I've just tried the exercise and it shows both 'looked at each other' and 'looked at one another' as correct. If you press Finish, and then press Show Answers, it shows both of these as correct. Did you perhaps write both answers at the same time in the gap? If so, that's must be the problem – you should only write one correct answer, not all correct answers.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I don't understand.. the rule says: each other refers to two people and one another refers to more than two people, and the example: Peter and Mary helped one another....why not each other ?? if it referes two people

Hello PaolaPao,

This is explained above where it says:

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

This means that, for the most part, both forms are used without the difference in meaning nowadays.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

hello all i did get the first one but each other’s and one another’s l didn't get it and one more thing l know that one anothe is use in case if we have more than two people or things is that right ?

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