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



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Soumis par missarshmah le mer 01/05/2013 - 11:12



Each other' we use for two people and 'one another' for more than two.ok.

The sisters were hugging one another

The cars were bumping into each other on the icy road

The cats were happily grooming each other.

The boats were bumping against each other in the storm

In these sentences exact no of things is not given ,cars.cats ,boats,could be more than two and sisters might be two.

Soumis par skylark le dim 28/04/2013 - 04:24



'Each other' we use for two people and 'one another' for more than two.ok. Can we say that they can be used like between and among?

Best Regards!

Hello skylark!


That's not a bad idea! If it helps you remember the difference, then yes, you can say that.




Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par dg7 le lun 15/04/2013 - 09:07



I think that these three examples, appearing at the top of the page, are confusing:

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.

They are just the opposite than the traditional meaning. Aren't they?

Thank you for your attention.

Hello dg7!


They are there to show that the traditional meaning isn't really followed any more. It's useful to know, but not essential.




Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par pachvak le lun 01/04/2013 - 19:42


Hi! I want to know if they have the same meaning, when we have to use "one another" and when "each other".

Soumis par rihana le dim 24/03/2013 - 08:07


i scored 83% in first attempt....need work hard this was little confusing Mr Bee u made my doubt clear.........thanks.

Soumis par Niva bose le mar 19/03/2013 - 09:38


sir I am facing problem in this exercise. It is not clear to me.If it is related two persons should be each other or one another? Make me clear sir


Hello Niva!


As the article says in the first paragraph, traditionally (in the past) we used each other for two people, but one another for three or more. Nowadays, though, you can use both each other and one another when talking about 2 people - it is perfectly OK.


Hope that helps!




Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par murta01 le lun 11/03/2013 - 14:14



 First of all I'm so excited by this site, and it's now my favorite  one. Second may be I'm still not understand this topic , please there anyone could explain why here in the above examples  they used one another for two people & each other for more than two people? Although  they explain the opposite.


Soumis par silar oo le jeu 28/02/2013 - 06:41

Please, help me! I don't know how I can check my answers.......

Soumis par lakmalin le lun 25/02/2013 - 10:52


hi,actually this is very good English lesson I've ever reading comments also can get much knowledge.

Soumis par zaza.07 le ven 22/02/2013 - 06:31


hallo leute, 

i`m a new member of this site and. I think all member of this site will learn english i expect if we will help one another we can it in the shortest time. it`s for my reciprocal lesson. 

best regards to all


Soumis par tkedd le sam 16/02/2013 - 13:17


I have a problem with this exercise.

Below, we have X___Y but result is one another.

Peter and Mary helped one another.
= Peter helped Mary and Mary helped Peter.

could Someone assist me ?

Soumis par j_amarildo le ven 25/01/2013 - 19:15


I had dificult In this execise, but I win. XD

Soumis par saber11 le ven 25/01/2013 - 17:29


Dear all of you,

your really great and the site is very useful. I am Egyptian. I liked it very much

Soumis par sinti le ven 28/12/2012 - 10:20


I got 100% score from this exercise . Feel good now. 

Hi. I'm memet from Turkiye.

Can you write. What is the difference between each other and one other?

I couldn't answer that exercise.

Thank you.

Each other is used when two people are involved. In the second sentence in the exercise "Paula sent Paul text messages and Paul sent her back text messages." Here only two people are involved so each other is the correct answer.

One another is used when more than two people are involved.For example in the first sentence in the exercise "She looked at them. They looked at her".  Here more than 2 people are involved and thus use one another


Soumis par rodnani le dim 09/12/2012 - 18:39


i well understand about reciprocal when a good explanation given by Sir Jeremy bee

Soumis par Guest-Jalal le mer 28/11/2012 - 01:10



there are a great  team of teachers in this site.

X______Y = each other.

X and X______Y = one another.

X______Y and Y = one another.

X and X______Y and Y = one another.

It helped me.


Hı. Guest-Jalal Thank you, for this formulating. I understand very vell. How a good formulating you have done..

Soumis par Adoh Rebs le jeu 08/11/2012 - 11:10



I too do not understand this lesson. please help me out


Hello Adoh Rebs!


The exercise is about the difference between each other and one another. We use each other as a subject when we are talking about two people:


John:  Let's study English!

Mary: Sure! We can help each other.


We use one another when there are more than two people:


John: Let's study English!

Bob: Good idea!

Mary: Sure! We can help one another.


However, these days English speakers don't really make very much difference between the two - so don't worry about it!


Best wishes


Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team


Soumis par Debinov le mar 23/10/2012 - 18:47


Why do we have to distinguish "each other" from "one another" in this exercise? It's modern English, isn't it?

Hello Debinov!


You're right, the difference is less important in modern English. It's still good practice though, and some writers and speakers use the difference.




Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par red_moon le mer 17/10/2012 - 17:49


Something going wrrong, i cant check the answers!

Soumis par Advocaat le ven 05/10/2012 - 15:22


I finally understood this exercise. The idea is to do the exercises following the old fashioned rules to get the answers right. We only have to take into account that this rule is disappearing in modern English.

I have noticed that we have to read all the comments after we do an exercise, because there are people who had the same problems.

Thanks again British Council.

Soumis par new123 le dim 30/09/2012 - 21:25

En réponse à par ernesa


    ??i want to practise english with someone anyone here

Soumis par rafaelacesar le mar 14/08/2012 - 18:34


If one another is for more than 2 people, why "I didn't speak to you, Jack, and you didn't speak to me.

We didn't speak to ..............." answer is each other?

Soumis par Feyisayo le mer 06/06/2012 - 08:36


i think this lesson is trying to teach us the use of reciprocal pronouns in traditional English i.e 'each other'  should be used for two people while 'one another' should be used for more than two people.

Soumis par Sujitha Anish le mar 08/05/2012 - 09:23


Dear teacher,

Me also confused, please help....


Soumis par myfionastyle le ven 06/04/2012 - 01:58


I'm confused. Can someone help to have a check or give some explanation? Thanks.

Soumis par Ibrahim Adam le mar 13/03/2012 - 17:55


Can you help me so as I help you, just helping each other

100% yes Waw.

Soumis par ab_s_m le mar 06/03/2012 - 10:52


Dear Teacher,

I'm Abeer, I confuse between the example:-

"We sent each other Christmas cards.
= We sent them a Christmas card and they sent us a Christmas card

and question 3/6

We gave them a present and they gave us a present.
We gave one another presents.

please clarify

both "we" and "them" refers to two people.2 n 2 are 4.

so use one another.

I don't know if I am right:)

I'm also baffled between "each other" and "one another".
I'd like the teacher to clarify it.

Soumis par mydang le jeu 01/03/2012 - 03:43


Would somebody please modify the lesson? It confused me .

fortunately, I read the comment below then I could understand that something's wrong here.