Each Other vs One Another
In the English language, reciprocal pronouns are used to discuss feelings that are reciprocated. Two such pronouns are each other and one another. Many similarities exist between these two reciprocal pronouns, making it challenging for English learners to use them correctly in written and spoken English. This article will explain their differences to help readers use these reciprocal pronouns more accurately.
Why is ‘each other’ a reciprocal pronoun? In sentences where this pronoun is used, an action is reciprocated by all those referenced. If John behaves nicely with Helen and Helen behaves nicely with John, it is said that John and Helen behave nicely toward each other. In this instance, the same behavior is reciprocated by the two participants. Consider the following examples:
• Bill and Charles were quarreling when they suddenly hit each other.
• The two movie stars looked at each other but avoided any handshake.
If a teacher asks students to say hello to one another, the expectation is that all students will reciprocate this behavior. This reciprocal pronoun is used when the same action, feeling, or behavior is expected or reciprocated, but the number of people involved is more than two. Here are a few examples:
• All students sent greeting cards to one another.
• The three winners congratulated one another on the podium.
- Both ‘each other’ and ‘one another’ are reciprocal pronouns indicating reciprocity of action, feeling, or behavior.
- Each other is used in a sentence with two subjects, while one another is used in the context of several people.
- Either pronoun can be used without being grammatically incorrect, although the traditional difference is based on the number of subjects involved.