Spanish expressions: El uno del otro.

el uno del otro spanish expressions

When speaking Spanish, sometimes it can be difficult to express or talk about reciprocal actions. However, there are a few expressions native speakers use to do it. Most of them use words like “uno” and “otro”. Yet, depending on how you structure them, the whole sentence might change. El uno del otro is among the most popular expression to talk about reciprocal actions or the effects of these actions.


Between Spanish teachers and students, expressing reciprocal actions using these expressions has become a controversial topic. It’s because some of them say that’s better to use “uno a otro” while others say that’s better “El uno del otro”. If you’re a Spanish learner looking to sharpen your Spanish skills, you’re in the right place. Keep reading if you seek to expand your vocabulary and learn how to use expressions like El uno del otro.


Why is it important to talk about reciprocal actions?


Using reciprocal expressions is a great alternative to avoid redundancy. In Spanish, generally speaking, sentences and words are “long” compared to English structures. For example, when we build English sentences, we use pronouns in most cases. However, in Spanish, omitting the subject is possible because of verb conjugations. Omitting the subject in a sentence can help you avoid redundancy and sound “too wordy”.


Let’s see some examples to get a better idea of how Spanish redundancy looks like.


El liderato es indispensable para el aprendizaje y el aprendizaje es indispensable para el liderato.

Leadership is indispensable for learning and learning is indispensable for leadership.


Ella podría vivir arriba con Stan. Ella podría cuidar a Stan y Stan podría cuidar de ella.

She could live upstairs with Stan. She could take care of Stan and Stan could take care of her.


As you may see, if you don’t use reciprocal expressions, you have to “repeat” the same sentence but you have to change the subjects’ order, basically. On the flip side, using reciprocal expressions things are different and way better. Let’s see the same examples below but using reciprocal phrases.


El liderato y el aprendizaje son indispensables el uno del otro.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.


Ella podría vivir arriba con Stan y cuidar el uno del otro.

She could live upstairs with Stan and take care of each other.

In these examples, sentences are shorter and easier to understand. After all, reciprocal phrases like el uno del otro are great to communicate clearly.


How to use el uno del otro


Using el uno del otro is pretty simple but sometimes can be tricky for some people. First, you need to pay attention that since we are using determinate articles, they change depending on the gender and number. You could use either “el uno del otro” or “una de la otra”. Or, “los unos de los otros” if you need to say something in plural. Even though saying “la una de la otra” is possible, most native Speakers don’t use it and just keep “una de la otra”. Let’s see some examples.


Sofía y Marta dependen una de la otra para poder pagar el arriendo.

Sofía and Marta depend on each other to be able to pay the rent.


Kirsten, no podemos guardar secretos el uno del otro.

Kirsten, we can’t keep secrets from each other.


Los estudiantes de Español aprenden mucho los unos de los otros cuando hablan en clase.

Spanish students learn a lot about each other when they speak in class.


When building sentences, Spanish speakers often place “el uno del otro” at the end of the sentence but placing it at the beginning is also possible. El uno del otro is the Spanish equivalent of “each other”. Let’s have a look at some other examples.


Los componentes de un ecosistema dependen el uno del otro.

The components of an ecosystem depend on each other.


De hecho, ellos estaban muy enamorados el uno del otro.

In fact, they were very much in love with each other.


Los unos de los otros podrán aprender mucho si se lo proponen.

They can learn a lot from each other if they put their minds to it.


Alternatives to El uno del otro


El uno del otro is quite popular but only using this phrase as a reciprocal expression can make your audience feel bored. Therefore, learning other Spanish alternatives to el uno del otro is important. There are plenty of them. Nonetheless, today we will show you just the most common.


First, we have uno a otro. It’s a good option since you can replace “el uno del otro” without making any changes. Uno a otro, just like “el uno del otro” will change depending on the gender and number. Let’s see the following sentence.


Carmen y Carla se han apoyado mucho una a otra

Carmen and Carla have been very supportive of each other


Another alternative is uno con otro. In this case, we change the preposition between “uno” and “otro”. Consequently, some sentences will require a few changes. Let’s see the example below.


Las canciones están de alguna manera entrelazadas unas con las otras

The songs are somehow intertwined with each other


Mutuamente is a Spanish word that means “mutual” and it’s a good alternative when talking about reciprocal things. With mutuamente, you don’t need to change anything as it remains intact in the sentence. Here’s an example.


Carlos y Juan se inspeccionaron mutuamente con la mirada

Carlos and Juan inspected each other with their eyes.


Finally, we have entre ellos and entre sí.


El problema es que no tienen un vínculo entre ellos.

The problem is that they do not have a link between them.


Todos son muy diferentes entre sí

They are all very different from each other


Generally speaking, using reciprocal expressions will help you avoid redundancy. They enhance your speeches and will keep your audience engaged. All of the alternatives shown above are great but you have to be careful and pay attention to any change if necessary. Mastering how to use el uno del otro isn’t a thing out of this world but it may require a bit of practice. Then, start practicing as soon as possible and don’t be left behind when speaking Spanish.





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