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Unit 54 Reciprocal verbs

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Main points

* Some verbs describe two people or two groups of people doing the same thing to each other, for example: `We met’, `I met you’, `We met each other’.

* You use `each other’ or `one another’ for emphasis.

* With some verbs, you use `each other’ or `one another’ after `with’.

1 Some verbs refer to actions that involve two people or two groups of people doing the same thing to each other. These verbs are sometimes called `reciprocal’ verbs.
We met in Delhi.
Jane and Sarah told me that they met you.
They met each other for the first time last week.

2 The two people or groups of people involved in the action are often mentioned as the plural subject of the verb, and the verb does not have an object. For example, `John and Mary argued’ means that John argued with Mary and Mary argued with John.

argue, clash, coincide, combine, compete, fight, kiss, marry, match, meet

The pair of you have argued about that for years.
We competed furiously.
Their children are always fighting.
They kissed.

3 When you want to emphasize that both people or groups of people are equally involved, you can use the pronouns `each other’ or `one another’ as the object of the verb. Verbs that refer to actions in which there is physical contact between people are often used with `each other’ or `one another’.

cuddle, embrace, fight, hug, kiss, touch

We embraced each other.
They fought one another desperately for it.
They kissed each other in greeting.
It was the first time they had touched one another.

4 Some verbs do not take an object, so you use a preposition before `each other’ or `one another’.
They parted from each other after only two weeks.
We talk to one another as often as possible.

5 With some verbs you have a choice of preposition before `each other’ or `one another’. For example, you can `fight with’ one another or `fight against’ one another.

with/against:compete fight
with/from:part
with/to:correspond relate talk

Many countries are competing with each other.
Did you compete against each other in yesterday’s race?
Stephen and I parted with one another on good terms.
They parted from one another quite suddenly.

6 With some verbs, you can only use `with’ before `each other’ or `one another’. Note that most of these verbs refer to people talking or working together.

agree, argue, clash, collide, communicate, co-operate, disagree, quarrel

We do agree with each other sometimes.
Have they communicated with each other since then?
The two lorries collided with one another on the motorway.

7 If you want to focus on one of the people involved, you make them the subject of the verb and make the other person the object.
She married a young engineer.
You could meet me at the restaurant.

If the verb cannot take an object, you mention the other person after a preposition.
Youths clashed with police in Belfast.
She was always quarrelling with him.

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