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In Bill Bryson's book titled "Mother Tongue. The Story of the English Language", on page 132 it says that "we must use each other for two things and one another for more than two."

So, when I read the following sentence quoted from a nih.gov paper, I wondered whether the writers correctly use each other.

From the point of view of a learner, like I am, the sentence might be okay only if one assumes that the writers want to mean that students interact each other in pairs (only two students at time) even if they are more than two; but, honestly, I doubt that the writers want to mean that.

Collaborative, case-based learning: how do students actually learn from each other?

Can anybody explain?

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    Bill Bryson is quite wrong with respect to both phrases. There might be just a hint of colour to the contrary argument that one another logically suggests pairwise reciprocation; but Bryson's position is indefensible. – StoneyB Mar 29 '13 at 21:09
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The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary describes each other as follows:

used as the object of a verb or preposition to show that each member of a group does something to or for the other members

Similar description is given for one another.

one another is used when you are saying that each member of a group does something to or for the other people in the group

Two of the examples given for each other, and one another are the following ones:

They looked at each other and laughed.

I think we've learned a lot about one another in this session.

There isn't any note saying that each other is used when the group is made of two people, and one another when the people in the group are more than two.

  • In "They looked at each other and laughed.", it implies two people, since generally people only look at one person, at this level, at a time. As for "I think we've learned a lot about one another in this session.", this sounds to me like something that would be said in a group setting. In this definition collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/american/session it refers to groups, meetings, classes etc. – user485 Mar 29 '13 at 23:14

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