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March 23, 2010

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ataa

the clue is in "each"

Jennie

Thanks! Just what I needed.

Virtual Linguist

Great. Thanks, Jennie. Glad it helped.

Account Deleted

Well explained, Jennie. I have bookmarked 'The Virtual Linguist' in my English Usage folder. Hoping to find useful info whenever I need. Fowler's concurrence is a plus. Cheers.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks. I'm not Jennie though - I'm Susan. Thanks for reading.

LizR

Thanks, I was also after this for something I'm writing.

Sally

This is a really exciting post! When I go to work tomorrow I'm going to show all my colleagues! They will be besides themselves... lol.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks for all the comments.

Rachel

What about when speaking of groups, eg "The vampires checked the others' work", where others is a group?
I've really confused myself by thinking about this too deeply! Hope you can help :)

Virtual Linguist


Thanks, Rachel. The apostrophe goes after the s in the sentence you wrote - you have written it correctly. As you say, here the reference is to a plural group. The problem that I mentioned in the blog post comes about because of the word 'each' in the sentence.

The vampires checked the other's work (referring to one other vampire)
The vampires checked the others' work (referring to a number of others)
The vampire's checked each other's work (because 'each' is in the sentence)

Hope this helps.

Susan

Hi, I agree that each other should be treated as singular, but in documents it pings the grammar check if you subscribe to that. I believe your last sentence in the comment above is a typo. The word "vampires" should not have an apostrophe, and I just wanted to point that out to avoid confusion.

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Susan. You're absolutely right. That's my over-hasty typing! Thanks for reading and for your comment.

Jon Manilenio

thank you for the clarification. i panicked and thought i was wrong when i saw a red underline (spell check) under "other's" in each other's. keep up the good work :)

Virtual Linguist

Thanks Jon. My apologies, again. Thanks for your kind words.

Lilabell

Thank you. Was driving me crazy.

Edmund

I find the four-version of "My sister's friend's investments" memorable.

My sister's friend's investments
(one sister, one friend)
My sisters' friend's investments
(one friend of all my sisters)
My sister's friends' investments
(the investments of all the friends of my sister)
My sisters' friends' investments
(the investments of all the friends of all my sisters).

(I suppose it stuck in my head as I never had any sisters, or investments! I like to measure wealth in friends though :)

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Edmund. Those are good ones. I agree with you about measuring wealth in friends. Thanks for stopping by and reading.

Anant

Should it be other's opinions or others' opinions? Thanks.

Paul Hassing

VERY helpful. Thank you kindly! :)

Kelly

@Anant Both can be correct depending on the context in which they are used.

Crystalyn

So it turns out the way I've been writing other's is correct, but now my question is whether the noun that follows is singular or plural. The example sentence given is confusing because cats have two eyes so it could mean that they are ready to tear each cat's two eyes or do you just use the plural because there are multiple cats?

If I'm writing the sentence, "My dogs stole each other's bones," and they each have one bones, is it bone or bones?

Virtual Linguist

Thanks, Crystalyn, good question, and one there doesn't seem to be a definitive answer for. Logic would suggest that if each dog only has one bone, you should say 'each other's bone', but most people use the plural in such cases. For instance, the expression 'they were at each other's throats' is very common, yet each person only has one throat.

This was a very good question. I've looked in all my grammar books and dictionaries and they all cop out, choosing a non-countable noun in their example to avoid the issue eg 'they enjoy each other's company'.

Catherine

Before composing the sentence, it helps me in apostrophe placement to imagine "each other's" is "each the other's."

"They are each other's enemies," is equivalent to "They are enemies, each the other's." (A New English Grammar, E. A. Sonnenschein and E. Archibald)

Virtual Linguist

Thank you for the useful tip, Catherine.

Zuzanna

I came to this page because I have always written each other's, and it's only recently that grammar checkers have been 'correcting' me. Somebody tell them they're wrong!

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