When letting somebody know you could run into them later, you might want to say this:
We might meet us!
“We” and “us” are like oil and water: they cannot be mixed. You can try combining them in a single sentence, but they will want to separate.
While we would say “vielleicht treffen wir uns” in German, we cannot translate “uns” with “us” here. The translation you are looking for is “each other”:
We might meet each other!
“Each other” is a reciprocal pronoun. Something that is reciprocal is mutual and works in two directions. Meeting people is reciprocal, because both participants meet the other person. If John and Alice meet “each other”, it means that John meets Alice and Alice meets John.
If we say “maybe we meet us”, we take away that aspect of reciprocity. Meeting would only happen in one direction, which is impossible. As each person meeting the other is implied, we can remove the redundant information. We can drop the “each other” from the sentence and keep the same message:
We might meet!
When talking about others, “each other” always implies reciprocity. Using “them” implies an interaction with another unnamed party. “Themselves” means each person interacts only with their own person.
- “Joe and Ben punch each other.” → Joe punches Ben and Ben punches Joe.
- “Joe and Ben punch them.” → Joe and Ben punch some other people.
- “Joe and Ben punch themselves.” → Joe punches Joe and Ben punches Ben.
Many actions can be reciprocal, such as meeting, punching, loving, or teaching. When you want to say that something happens mutually, you want to use “each other”.
If you send me some tips now, it’ll mean that we taught each other.
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Some actions happen to multiple people at once, like running into someone. In these situations, we need to use reciprocal pronouns.Read full lesson