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.
All lessons in this course
An actual video
Two words can look like translations of each other even if they aren’t. The word “actual” is our first venture into this category of false friends.Read full lesson
Making a photo
Even if you translate each individual word in a sentence correctly, the resulting translation can still be off.Read full lesson
What for a picture
Not every word in a sentence needs to appear in its translation. Languages don’t map to each other one-to-one.Read full lesson
You can spot Germans by the fact that they use “or” to ask questions. Unfortunately, the word doesn’t work that way in English.Read full lesson
This mistranslation gave this course its name. “Together” refers to doing something with others. Here’s how to greet a group of people instead.Read full lesson
What do you call a phone you can hold in your hand? Well, it’s not this. If you call it a handy, you’re in for some awkward looks.Read full lesson
Becoming a car
“Bekommen” and “to become” are another pair of false friends. If you want something, make sure you’re not accidentally turning yourself into that thing.Read full lesson
Less vs fewer
Is it “less mistakes” or “fewer mistakes”? They both seem to say that something is not as much as it was before, but only one is grammatically correct.Read full lesson
False friends are everywhere. Eventually is very similar to the German “eventuell”, but it means something completely different.Read full lesson
Why isn’t it “Whom let the dogs out”? The extra letter does not turn a regular “who” into a fancy version of itself.Read full lesson
When coming from a language that doesn’t normally use them, where to put apostrophes can seem confusing.Read full lesson
I vs me
Was an event organized by “Nina and I” or “Nina and me”? To find which one applies, take the other person out of the sentence for a second.Read full lesson
Good vs well
You’re doing well, Superman is doing good. This lesson looks at the rules behind which of these two is correct in a given situation.Read full lesson
When you’re excited about something, tell others what that thing is. On its own, you’re only saying half an expression otherwise.Read full lesson
When you don’t know someone’s preferred pronouns, you can use they/them even when speaking about an individual person and not a group.Read full lesson
We have been taught to always say please and thank you. Whether they are right for a situation depends on the context.Read full lesson
Some actions happen to multiple people at once, like running into someone. In these situations, we need to use reciprocal pronouns.Read full lesson
Other languages don’t always use the auxillary “do” as much as the English language does, so it’s often lost in translation.Read full lesson