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 other Christmas cards.
     =
We sent them a Christmas card and they sent us a Christmas card.
They didn't look at each another.
     =
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

Hi Peter
Thanks for your reply...
It isn't what you think it is...it was a question in a recent exam that I've had...and the answers given by the lecturer weren't very convincing...that's why I asked for your help...
Thank you :)

hello learnenglish.britishcouncil.org staff,
Thank you for your pretty and useful job that you are doing here

You said: each other refers to two people and one another refers to more than two people.
and the examples are:
- peter and Mary helped one another. those are two people, why did not we use each other?
- We sent each other Christmas cards. those are more than two people, why didn't we use one another?

Hello,
I found the answer for this question in the below question.
Thank you, you don't need to answer anymore I got it.

hi
Peter and Mary helped one another.
why
one anther to more than two people
then
peter and mary helped each ather

Hello rody2011,

This is explained in the first paragraph above:

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

In other words, this is a rule which is no long strictly followed, and is disappearing.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!
why my sentence "we give each other a present" is wrong?

Hello SPM,

You are talking about more than one present here, so you should say 'presents' not 'present'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello SPM,

You are talking about more than one present here, so you should say 'presents' not 'present'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
thanks a lot for your support for this nice website.

In the second test of the excersise:
Romeo loved Juliet and Juliet loved Romeo. Romeo and Juliet loved ------
I think each other is better,!!!
Please clear it for me to understand it.

Hello zia,

As is explained above, both forms are generally considered correct nowadays. If you prefer one form over the other, by all means use it!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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