Each Other’s vs Each Others’: Which Is Correct?

each other's versus each others'
Due to the fact these two-word combinations sound exactly the same with only the placement of the apostrophe being different, many people aren’t sure which of them is correct. The aim of this article is to de-fog the fogginess surrounding these two (we’ve already done so with was vs were, further away vs farther away, and onto vs on to). One of these forms is correct, and the other is just plain wrong. Would anyone care to lay bets before we continue by explaining which is which?

“Each” Refers to How Many?

To get the answer we’re looking for, we should begin by looking at the word “each.” It automatically implies that we are talking about one of the following: a single object or person, a group of things, or people that can be regarded as a unit.

To put this more clearly, you wouldn’t use a pluralized word after “each.” You may say “each animal has unique markings,” but you would never say “each animals have unique markings.” If you were to modify the sentence to “Each of the animals has unique markings,” we’re once again looking at a single animal at a time.

You could talk about “each people,” but then you would be talking about individual races, which turns the word “people” into a singular that could be pluralized as “peoples.” For example: “Each people has its own culture,” means that the French culture differs from the German culture, and so on. It would be a slightly odd way of expressing the idea, but it wouldn’t be wrong because in the example “people” is singular.

The bottom line with all of this? As soon as you see the word “each,” the word following it needs to be in its singular form.

“Other” Refers to How Many?

Because we have prefixed “other” with “each” it has to remain in the singular form. While there is a plural form for “other” which is “others,” it differs from the example of “people” since it has no alternative meaning and cannot be pluralized yet again.

Returning to that example, we could say that “people” means a whole lot of persons, or we could use it to indicate race: “The Turks are a people who love their coffee. The Turks and the Greeks are two peoples who have often been at war.” There is no such alternative meaning for “others.” It’s the plural form of “other” and that’s all there is to it.

Sticking to the Rule

The rule is that “each” will always be followed by a singular. “John and Mary promised to love each other forever. They agreed to take care of each other’s wellbeing above all else.” The apostrophe is used to indicate possession, and it comes before the s, not after it.

If we don’t prefix “other” with “each”, we can use it in the plural form. “You need to learn to respect others’ views,” but as soon as the magic “each” enters the equation, “You need to learn to respect each other’s views,” is the correct form. Don’t be confused by the word “we,” even though it does indicate more than one person: “We need to learn to respect each other’s views” is correct as long as we use the singular forms of “other” after the word “each.”

Another Example

Here are two more permutations: “We need to respect one another’s views,” and “We need to respect others’ views.”

“One another” is really just another way of saying “Each other.” But if we leave out the word that indicates a singular (“one” or “each”), we can use the apostrophe after the s because we are now talking about multiple others simultaneously.

No Need for Confusion

Just remember the simple rule about the word following “each” and you’ll never get “each other’s” wrong again. Now, to the important business at hand. Who lost the bet I invited you to make at the beginning of this piece? I accept PayPal, wire transfers, and indentured servitude as methods of payment…

  • I hate apostrophes in English. They are o confusing! I think I understand this now. I wish English was easier to understand!

    • I have to agree. It’s so confusing and there are so many exceptions to the rules. There should be a better way of conveying meaning than with an apostrophe.

    • I’ve always had trouble with apostrophes as well. The correct each others is a great example of why I have so much trouble. It can get quite confusing!!!

  • Does there need to be an apostrophe at all? Can’t you just write each others without using an apostrophe? Doesn’t that make everything a lot easier.

    • English doesn’t work like that. The apostrophe, while it can be confusing, helps the reader know exactly what you mean. Read the article and you’ll understand the right time to use the apostrophe.

  • This is much too difficult for the average person to understand. They should just stop it. I hate getting frustrated trying to learn these things that aren’t going to matter at all in life, but will keep me from getting into college. Just stop it!

  • This is one of the simplest spelling rules EVER and noone can get it right today. It’s like listening to misanthropes explain “eachother” vs. “each other”, or “alot vs. a lot”. Why would ANYONE take spelling advice from a Millennial that can’t even distinguish the proper usage of the words “to” and too”. Rewriting the language, doesn’t take away from the fact that you always got it wrong in school, so change it! Throw away that participation trophy and get with the program already!!!

  • It would’ve help if you included in your explanation the proper context of the pluralized apostrophe (others’) so that people can understand the distinction and contrasts between the two uses.

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