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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


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




Peter and Mary helped one another

Can we write it as Peter and Mary helped "each" other ???

Hello Rashmi_Choubey,

The answer to this is on the page 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.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir,
I have a question for your exercise. As your grammar, in modern English, each other and one another are the same. So I think the possesive forms are the same too. But in question number 6, my answer "My brother and I used to borrow one another's clothes" is incorrect. Can you explain to me? Thank you very much.

Hello Khuong Nhi,

Your answer was correct – it was our game that was wrong. I've now fixed this, so if you try again, you should see your answer as correct.

Thank you very much for telling us about this!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir!

I have a consider with your lesson about reciprocal pronouns: each other and one another.

As your grammar, each other refers to two people but in your example: Peter and Mary helped one

another =Peter helped Mary and Mary helped Peter. Perter and Mary are two people, so why dont we

use each other for this example? it is the same with below example, Is there a opposittionbetween

the grammar and the examples?

Hello KimToi,

The examples in the explanation above are examples of how 'each other' and 'one another' are used currently, not how they were traditionally used. As is explained above, both forms are used for two or more people nowadays.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


Your material is very valuable, thanks.

Why do you say 'You and Jack didn't talk to each other' is correct while '.....did not talk.....' is incorrect!?

Hi John Murray,

Both 'didn't' and 'did not' are correct here. I have added 'did not' to the correct answers.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

It's great. How can I download this learning resource?

Hello DoctorHiStreet,

It's nice to hear you like the material. I'm afraid the interactive exercises are not downloadable, but other material on this site is, such as pdf versions of exercises, transcripts and audio files.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team