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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

Why is this sentence in the singular when it says each of them and then goes on to say ,,,,,,, he.
Here is the sentence taken from "Brave New World".
Each of them carried a notebook, in which, whenever the great man spoke, he desperately scribbled.

WHY IS IT he desperately scribbled ??
Thanks
quickspot

Hello quickspot,

It's a very strange construction. The 'he' here would appear to refer either to 'the great man' or to another person for whom the people mentioned are carrying the notebooks. I would say that if the scribbling is done by the people carrying the notebooks then 'they' would be a better choice.

 

Obviously, in context the sentence may read differently and there may be other clues which clarify Huxley's intent.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teachers,

In this sentence 'They helped to look after each other's children.'
What does 'They' refer to? Does it mean husband and wife or different family?
Ex: The Michaels have two children. And The Richards have three
children.
Can I say 'They helped to look after each other's children'?

Hello Kunthea,

'They' could refer to several individuals or to groups such as families, depending on the context.

 

Your example is correct. Well done!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
in the first exercise, in number 4, is it correct if I say "We gave each other a present"? because the answer shown as correct is "We gave each other presents"

Thank you c:

Hello sofiabravo,

That could possibly be correct in an unusual situation, i.e. one where you and the other person both spent money on the same present that you then share together. But otherwise, when you give one present to the other person, and the other person gives a present to you (notice there are two presents), the plural is the correct form.

Does that make sense?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

It's really fantastic.

Hello,

In the first exercise "Reciprocal pronouns 1". Can I say in number 6 " My brother and I used to borrow clothes from each other" it is shown to be incorrect, can you please help me understand why?

Thank you.

Hello H_L,

Yes, that is correct. The expected answer is '...borrow each other's clothes' but your answer is also fine.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Greetings,gentlemen.Would you kindly answer my question abiut usage I am a bit confused.In this sentence,The students should try their best so that they ___ be ready for the exam,should we use will or would in the blank?Also,please check if this sentence makes any sense and correct if it does not,This computer does not hold as few updated applications as that one

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