Reciprocal pronouns in English

Reciprocal pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns are the group-pronouns each other and one another. They express mutual action or relation. The subject to which they refer must always be in the plural.

  • Our pupils help each other/one another with their lessons
  • Ann and Nelly wrote each other’s phone numbers
  • “I didn’t really know him,” he thought, “and he didn’t know me; but we loved each other.”
  • We haven’t set eyes on one another for years

Use of reciprocal pronouns

Each other generally implies only two, one another two or more than two people:

  • He had never heard his father or his mother speak in an angry voice, either to each other, himself, or anybody else. (Galsworthy) Seated in a row close to one another were three ladies — Aunts Ann, Hester (the two Forsyte maids), and Julie (short for Julia)…

It must be mentioned that this distinction is not always strictly observed:

  • I should have been surprised if those two could have thought very highly of one another

Reciprocal pronouns have two case forms

  • Girls banged into each other and stamped on each other’s feet

The common case of reciprocal pronouns is used as an object.

  • The men were not grave and dignified. They lost their tempers easily and called one another names…
  • Elizabeth and George talked and found each other delightful. (Aldington

The genitive case of reciprocal pronouns may be used as an at­tribute

  • At first it struck me that I might live by selling my works to the ten per cent who were like myself; but a moment’s reflection showed me that these must all be as penniless as I, and that we could not live by, so to speak, taking in one another’s washing
  • Not until moon and stars faded away and streaks of daylight be­gan to appear, did Meitje Brinker and Hans look hopelessly into each other’s face

Reciprocal pronouns preceded by a preposition are used as a prepositional indirect object:

  • They look at one another for a moment
  • … in silence they stared at each other

Video – EACH OTHER & ONE ANOTHER | Reciprocal pronouns

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