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In this sentence:

I'm proud we're not one of those couples who have to snoop through each other's belongings.

Is the above correct? Or should it be "each others' belongings"? Can you ever say each others' in any situation?

Thanks for any advice!

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  • Thanks that helped, though I see there are different schools of thought!
    – MoniqueH
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 20:12
  • I believe this question should remain open. I have voted to close the previous question (the one that has been put forward as being a duplicate) because it is ill-defined and based on a false premise. The question here is clear and well-defined/ Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 21:27
  • Related though probably not duplicate:We're all each other has. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 21:46
  • Thanks Tim. On a related note, is it ok to say, "our eyes bore into each other?"
    – MoniqueH
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 0:33
  • @Monique - That would be a strange statement because it would imply the people involved were cross-eyed (or maybe the use of mirrors). Under normal circumstances you should say, "Our eyes bore into each other's [eyes]. If you mean that each person's eyes bore into the other person (rather than the other person's eyes) then you have to spell it out -- you can't use 'each other'. Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 8:34

1 Answer 1

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There is a very simple way to understand this. Forget about the possessive aspect and ask yourself the question:

Can 'each other' ever be plural? The answer is no. Here's an example:

Imagine a football team. Every member gives a Christmas card to every other member. There are many people and many cards. Does that mean 'other' should be plural? Let's try:

The members of the team all gave each others a Christmas card.

Any native speaker, whether they have a knowledge of grammar or not, will say that that is wrong. They will tell you to say:

The members of the team all gave each other a Christmas card.

The reason is that 'each' is always singular and can only modify a singular noun.

Another way to see the same thing is to consider 'each other' as meaning 'each other person'. You would say each other person's belongings but never each other persons' belongings.

Answer

It is always each other and there is no context in which it could be each others. This holds true even if you add the apostrophe to make the expression possessive.

The correct usage would would be:

The members of the team like their cards and admired each other's presents.

Update in response to a comment

The following passage supports my argument that 'each other' is correct and 'each others' is incorrect.

Every, like each, is always used with a singular noun form and therefore with a singular verb form in English because we are counting the things or people that we are talking about separately one by one:

Every child in the class plays a musical instrument. Every instrument belonging to the school is tuned regularly. everybody / everyone / everything

Learning English - BBC World Service

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  • Do you disagree with me that the question is a duplicate of the following one: Should “each” be followed by a singular or plural possessive?? If not (that is, if you do agree with me), why did you post an answer here rather than voting to close and posting an answer at the linked question?
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 21:01
  • I think that what makes this question different is the final question: 'Can you ever say each others' in any situation?'* I focused on answering that. You can never correctly say it in any context. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 21:05
  • How does that make it any different? Your answer would fit in fine on the other page; one of the answers there starts with "Surely it's always each others" (bolding added by me). It's inconvenient that you posted your answer here because it makes it harder to compare to the answers on the other page, and anyone who finds the other page will have to click on the links to see your answer.
    – herisson
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 21:09
  • I'll have another look. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 21:11
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    I don't think the other answers should be migrated here. That question and its answers were a complete mess. I don't think we should inflict someone else's problems on this OP. I've looked at the meta question and answers you refer to. I see them as supporting my position. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 21:45

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