When to Use "Each Other" and "One Another"

by Margaret Minnicks 4 months ago in how to

Nine out of ten people misuse "each other" and "one another" when speaking or writing.

When to Use "Each Other" and "One Another"

No matter how long you have been out of an English class, you might still wonder when to speak or write "each other" and when to speak or write "one another." Only those who majored in English in college or have a fondness for the language will catch the mistake that so many people make, including news commentators and celebrities.

Some people say it doesn't make a difference whether a person says "each other" or "one another." However, it does matter just like any other grammar rule matters.

If you ever wonder which pronoun to use when speaking or writing, there are very simple rules to help you remember which one is correct.

Use "Each Other."

Two children (Photo by scarymommy)

It is appropriate to use "each other" when referring to only two people or things especially when they have the same thing in common.

In the above photo, the little girl has her arms around the little boy's shoulders. He reciprocates by putting his arms around her shoulders. What is done to one is done to the other.

Therefore, it is appropriate to say, "The girl and the boy are holding onto each other."

Use "One Another."

Three children walking (Photo via commons.wikimedia.org)

Both "each other" and "one another" are reciprocal pronoun phrases. The difference is that "each other" is used for only two people and things. "One another" is used when three or more people or things have something in common and they are talked about in the same sentence.

In the above photo, the three little children are walking along together holding hands. They are doing the same thing. Therefore, it is appropriate to say, "The three children are walking and holding hands with one another."

Jerry Springer (Photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Jerry Springer ends every one of his shows by saying, "Be kind to yourself and to each other." He encourages others by giving them advice on his show the debuted on September 30, 1991.

If you have ever seen the Jerry Springer Show where two people usually feud with each other, youwould know that the host gives them a pep talk at the end of the show before he tells them to be kind to themselves and to each other.

Ellen Degeneres (Photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Ellen DeGeneres ends every one of her shows by telling the studio audience and viewers to "Be kind to one another." Surely, she refers to more than two people. Therefore, "one another" is the appropriate reciprocal pronoun phrase to use.

Her show has been on the air for 16 seasons since September 8, 2003. As of May 13, 2019, there had been 3,000 episodes.

Ellen has been using her catchphrase at the end of her show for so long that her fans expect her to say it, and she doesn't disappoint. Ellen is a kind person. Therefore, it is no surprise that she advocates kindness to others.

Scripture (Photo via Holy Bible NIV)

The Bible uses both "each other" and "one another" in the same scripture. So, how can we explain that? When "one another" is used in the first part of the scripture, it is a command to everyone in general that involves more than two people.

Later in the same verse, "each other" is used because the reciprocal pronoun phrase is in reference to forgiving each other not as a group but in a more personal way between two people who have hurt or harmed each other.

Other Misuse of Words.

There is a long list of words that are commonly misused. More articles will be posted concerning grammar rules for those words. There are simple rules that will help people if they would take the time to learn them.

  • few vs. less
  • many vs. much
  • everyone vs. every one
  • farther vs. further
  • accept vs. except
  • affect vs. effect
  • lie vs. lay
  • to vs. two and too
  • bring vs. take
  • imply vs. infer
  • who vs. whom
  • principal vs. principle
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Margaret Minnicks

Margaret Minnicks shares articles with readers all over the world. Topics include celebrities, royal family, movies, television, foods, drinks, health issues, and other interesting things. Thanks in advance for TIPS that are sent my way. 

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