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Each other / one another

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.

We also use the possessive forms each other’s and one another’s:

They helped to look after each other’s children.

We often stayed in one another’s houses.

NOTE: We do not use reciprocal pronouns as the subject of a clause.


Reciprocal Pronouns ‘Each Other’ and ‘One Another’ EXERCISE 8 Underline the correct answers.

1 Both of them love (each other , one another) very much.

2 The teacher told his students to cooperate with (each other , one another) when doing the project.

3 Peter and Jane take turns to help (each other , one another) to carry the heavy grocery bag.

4 The group of boys were so ashamed of themselves that they dared not look at (each other , one
another) in the eye.

5 The neighbours on the fifth floor do not get along with (each other , one another).

6 The librarian stacked the storybooks on top of (each other , one another) and placed them on the

7 Selina and Jack have known (each other , one another) since primary school.

8 My aunt and mother respect (each other , one another) greatly.

9 Everybody should lend a helping hand to (each other , one another) during times of emergency.

10 The two enemies hate (each other , one another) to the core.

In modern English, each other and one another are used in the same way. One
another is preferred in cases where we are making general statements.

They no longer talk to each other / one another.

Both expressions have possessive forms: each other’s / one another’s.

They sat for hours listening to each other’s / one another’s tales.

Grammar notes

Each other is not used with words like meet, marry and similar.

 They met at a pub. (NOT They met each other at a pub.)

 They married in 2001. (NOT They married each other in 2001.)

Themselves, each other / one another

There is a difference between themselves and each other / one another.


 They love themselves a lot. (= Each of them loves himself or herself.)

 They love each other a lot. (=Each of them loves the other.)

Correct use of only

The adverb only should be placed immediately before the word it modifies. Study the
following sentence. Note the change in the meaning according to the change in the
position of only.

 Only Alice helped me to write the book. (= Only Alice and no one else helped
me to write the book.)
 Alice only helped me to write the book. (= Alice helped me to write the book, but
she didn’t actually write it herself.)
 Only John could solve the problem. (= Only John and no one else could solve
the problem.)
 John could only solve the problem. (= John could solve the problem, but
couldn’t do anything else.)