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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 talk to each other regularly.
      = John talks to Fred and Fred talks to John.
John and Fred regularly talk to themselves.
      = John talks to himself and Fred talks to himself.

Reciprocal pronouns 2

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Comments

Hello elakkiyarun,

Please see Peter's response to The_Unknown below, in which he answers your question.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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

Hi LuckyBC,

Those two sentences mean the same thing as far as I can tell, though it really depends on the context. I might say 'Lines are adjacent to other lines', but I don't really know what you want to say here. 

Does that help?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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

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