Reciprocal Pronouns

Introduction to Reciprocal Pronouns

A reciprocal pronoun is a type of pronoun used when two or more subjects are acting in a way that is reciprocated. In English, there are two primary reciprocal pronouns: 'each other' and 'one another'. Let's discuss them in detail along with their usage, examples, and rules.

Each Other

'Each other' is one of the two main reciprocal pronouns in English. It's used when we talk about two people or things acting in some way towards each other. It reflects a mutual or reciprocal action.

Usage and Examples of 'Each Other'

The general rule is that 'each other' is used for two entities. It may be a little cheeky or unconventional to use it for more than two, although in casual speech it happens. Regardless, here are some examples to better understand 'each other':

  • John and Marry loved each other deeply.
  • The two teams respect each other.
  • My friend and I help each other with our studies.

One Another

'One another' is the other main reciprocal pronoun. It is used to reflect a mutual, reciprocal action or feeling involving more than two subjects.

Usage and Examples of 'One Another'

The standard rule dictates using 'one another' for more than two entities. This pronoun implies a reciprocal relationship between multiple people or things. Here are some illustrative examples:

  • The members of the band helped one another to write new songs.
  • All the students in the class study with one another.
  • The countries traded goods with one another.

Key Rules to Remember

Even though the traditional usage states 'each other' for two entities and 'one another' for more than two, in contemporary English, these pronouns are often used interchangeably. However, it's still important to know the standard rules:

  • 'Each other' is used for two subjects.
  • 'One another' is used for three or more subjects.

Possessive Form of Reciprocal Pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns can also possess a possessive form. Just add
's to make them possessive. Things get a little tricky here; it may seem grammatically incorrect to add 's to these pronouns because they imply more than one subject. But it is indeed correct.

Usage and Examples of Possessive Reciprocal Pronouns

Here are some instances where the possessive form of reciprocal pronouns is used:

  • John and Mary are renovating each other's houses.
  • The dogs are chewing one another's toys.

Common Mistakes with Reciprocal Pronouns

Learning the correct usage of reciprocal pronouns and avoiding common mistakes can significantly improve one’s English. Here are a few common pitfalls to evade:

  • Not including a subject: Use of reciprocal pronouns needs a plural antecedent.
  • Using them unnecessarily: Use of 'each other' or 'one another' is needed only when there's reciprocal action or feeling.
  • Using incorrect form: Although often interchanged, try to use 'each other' for two subjects and 'one another' for three or more.


Understanding the reciprocal pronouns, their appropriate usage, and common issues in the context can greatly help in sentence structuring and overall fluency in English. Remember that mastering languages requires practice – so try to utilize these pronouns in your daily communication!

Practice Exercise

To help remember the concept better, try to complete the following sentences with the correct reciprocal pronoun:

  • The two siblings always support _______.
  • The members of the club need to trust _______ to succeed.
  • The cats chased _______ around the room.
  • They huddled together for warmth, wrapping _______ in their blankets.

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