Pronouns : Reciprocal Pronouns

Reciprocal Pronouns

A reciprocal pronoun expresses a mutual action or relationship. The reciprocal pronouns are: each other and one another:

Here are some examples of reciprocal pronouns:

  • The cat and dog hate each other.
  • After they lost the players started fighting with one another.
  • The bride and groom made vows to each other.
  • The boys had exactly the same answers but swore they had not seen each other’s papers.
Each other or one another?

Here’s the quick answer: If the total number of those involved is two animals, people, things or any combination then use each other.

If the total number of those involved is more than two, then useuse one another.

(The ‘posh’ word for those involved is antecedents – i.e. those that have gone before)

  • The cat and dog hate each other.
  • Red wine and cheese complement each other.

In the above examples, the antecedent is two things so we use each other as the reciprocal pronoun.

When the antecedent is three or more things, use one another:

  • There must have been at least a dozen dogs howling at one another.
  • As the clock struck midnight the crowd wished one another Happy New Year.
Each other’s and one another’s NEVER Each others’ and one anothers’

The pronouns each other and one another are treated as singular entities – weird I know,  but there it is. So, to show possession, the apostrophe always comes before the final s.

This is not negotiable it is an absolute rule.

  • Dad and uncle Joe were jealous of each other’s cars.
  • All the monkeys at the zoo were picking insects from one another’s hairy backs.

If one of the children ever picks you up for using the wrong reciprocal pronoun, high five your TA, break out the brandy and cigars, your work is done… 😀

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