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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

In question no 4, there are 3 people, more than 2... but why, we should use each other ?
Thank you, i hope i will get answer for you all...

The most easiest way to remember is to limit the persons like one by one, each other will use. Correct?
In the above given example, Peter and Mary helped one another.", it makes me confuse. Can I always use the traditional method?

Regards,
Oak

Hello

I'm confused. The explanation doesn't match the examples. You are saying:

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

Hello hananturland,

I'm not too sure what exactly you are confused about. The last sentence of the explantion is key here: this distinction is disappearing in modern English. In other words, there used to be a fixed distinction but in modern English the forms are now used largely interchangeably; this is what the examples demonstrate.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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

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