Reciprocal pronouns indicate that two or more nouns are doing or being the same to one another in a mutual relationship. There needs to be two nouns represented in order to use reciprocal pronouns.
If one noun receives an action or something happens to it, then the other noun also receives the same action or has the same thing happen to it. It sounds confusing, but it really isn’t.
How Many Reciprocal Pronouns Are There?
This is the best news - TWO.
Each other & one another
Each other is used when we are speaking about two persons or things
One another is used when speaking about more than two persons or things
Let’s take a look at each reciprocal pronoun on its own for examples:
|My brother and sister love each other.
|The Olympians congratulated one another on each winning a medal.
|Before Christmas, we talked to each other about presents.
|At the ceremony, each team member gave compliments to one another.
|At a family-style meal, we pass around and share food with each other.
|In order to support one another, the ants formed an interlocking chain.
How Do They Function in a Sentence?
The most important thing to remember about sentence structure is that reciprocal pronouns almost always have to be an object within a sentence. That means they don’t function well when used as a subject.
Take a look at a few of the example sentences above - remember that direct objects receive an action, while indirect objects answer the question To whom or for whom was the action done?
| My brother and sister love each other.
Each other is the direct object receiving the love.
| The Olympians congratulated one anotheron each winning a medal.
One another is the direct object receiving the congratulations.
| Before Christmas, we talked to each other about presents.
Each other is the indirect object because it tells to whom the subject (we) talked.
| At the ceremony, each team member gave compliments to one another.
One another is the indirect object answering to whom or for whom the subject (each team member) gave compliments.
Some people will argue that you can only use each other with two people/things and one another for more than two people/things, but common language norms today use both interchangeably. Just use the one that works the best in your sentence.