Reciprocal Pronouns

The term “reciprocate” means to give in return. This definition will serve you well as you learn about a type of pronoun called reciprocal pronoun.

What Are Reciprocal Pronouns

A reciprocal pronoun is a pronoun used to identify an action or feeling that is reciprocated. For this reason, it always refers to more than one person. For example, Anne is waving to Sean and Sean is waving to Anne. So we say:

Anne and Sean are waving to each other.

The waving is given in return between the two, or is reciprocated. Reciprocation is a common occurrence. I say hello to you and you say hello to me. Andrew does Sam a favor and Sam does a favor for Andrew. So, what pronouns are reciprocal pronouns?

Actually, the two reciprocal pronouns are actually phrases, not individual words, and they are:

Each other

One other

In order to use them there must be two or more people, things, or groups involved and they must be performing the same action. Here’s what I mean.

Examples of Reciprocal Pronouns

In the sentences below there is emphasis on the fact that the people involved are equally participating in an action or feeling. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Peter and Paul admire each other.
Allie and Jerry loathe each other.
The twelve angry men were all pointing fingers at one another.
Both groups fought hard against each other.
They gave each other gifts.
Why do you question each other?
That can’t talk to each other.
The sisters were hugging one another.
The cars were bumping into each other on the icy road.
Dick and Jane waved goodbye to each other as they left the playground.
The students helped one another perform the group experiment.
They asked each other the same question and the same time.
Ben and Frank like to throw the ball to each other.
Betty and Veronica like to give surprise gifts to each other.
The doctors rely on one another for peer consultations.
The cats were happily grooming each other.
The horses were tripping one another as the race came to an end.

You may have noticed that in the above sentences one another was used when three or more people or things were involved. That’s what some grammar experts state as correct, even though we don’t commonly use the phrase. But if only two people or things are involved, all agree to use each other.

In case you were wondering, reciprocal pronouns also have possessive forms. Adding the apostrophe “s” to the end of the reciprocal pronoun creates them. For example:

Carla and Angie can wear each other’s clothes.

Since Carla and Angie both own clothes that the other can wear then this is correct expression of the possessive form.

Remembering which pronouns are reciprocal pronouns is easy since there are only two of them! Each other and one another are used when each of two or more people or things are acting in the same way towards each other. Reciprocal pronouns can only refer to a plural noun or multiple nouns because the feeling or action has to be shared in the sentence. That’s what reciprocation is all about.