More Pairs of Terms

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

The next few posts in our grammar series will be devoted to misused pairs of terms. Since I’ll be covering one pair at a time, these posts will generally be pretty brief, but that doesn’t make them any less important.

Today, we’re going to talk about the words we use to cover the interactions of two or more people. For some reason, this is an area we seem to get wrong more often than we get it right.

We’re going to talk about the terms each other and one another. These two terms seem to be misused about as often as they are used correctly. We often use them interchangeably, but they are not the same.

Each other specifically deals with the interaction of two people. Exactly two. Bill and I send each other Christmas cards. Ken and Barbie love each other. These are statements concerning the relationships or actions of pairs of people.

One another, on the other hand, deals with more than two people. The members of my writers’ group enjoy one another’s company. My cousins and I have always been close to one another. Statements concerning the relationships or actions of more than two people.

It is always incorrect to say one another when discussing only two people, and it is just as wrong to say each other when dealing with groups larger than two. Each other involves two, one another involves more than two.

Let’s all learn this simple rule of word usage so we can write more intelligent and coherent prose.

What grammatical misuse bothers you? What particular area of grammar would you like help with? I’d love to hear and help.


For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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26 Responses to More Pairs of Terms

  1. denisedyoung says:

    David, the one that always bugs me is when people confuse “less” and “fewer.” Less is only used in instances when something isn’t quantifiable. If something can be counted, fewer is called for (less fruit but fewer oranges). Good post! 🙂


  2. Keep ’em coming, please! (Don’t judge that grammar!) Like Tameri, I don’t always comment but I always read your posts and appreciate these great reminders.


  3. Marcia says:

    Oh, another good one, David! Look at how many folks you’re helping! Grammar lessons are a great idea!


  4. We’ll be getting there. Thanks, Amberr.


  5. Karlene says:

    I love this. I hadn’t known. Yay! I learned something knew today! Thank you!


  6. I never realised this even was a rule. Thank you again David for taking the time to post this. A little bit once a week and I’m sure even I’ll get there. Have a great week!


  7. Ooh, each other and one another is a great one. A friend of mine received a book rejection based on misusing the terms. (Of all reasons, right? ;)) Who versus whom bothers, and sometimes perplexes, me. And it drives me nuts when people mistake ‘its’ for ‘it’s’—and vice versa.


  8. This is one of those rules I just knew by gut instinct, but now I’ll make sure I’m always using correctly. I love these grammar posts, David. I don’t always comment on them, but I do read them and book mark them. Thank you!


  9. Jess Witkins says:

    I’m with Renee. I don’t think I’ve made this mistake before, but I could be wrong.

    Covering the Me vs. I issue is a good one. I think I know that one, but you might prove me wrong. I wish I remembered more of my language classes.


  10. Lynn says:

    I actually had no idea about this one. Proves that I am not too old to learn!


  11. I am fairly certain I knew this intuitively.


    I’m not positive.

    Have you addressed the dreaded “He and I” vs “Me” as the subject of a sentence.

    That’s always a doozie for people.


  12. Sharon K. Walker says:

    Important information to know. “Between” and “among” are frequently misused.


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