Um ao outro in Portuguese: (each other)

Um ao outro in Portuguese

Why does it seem so hard to express say something so simple as each other? In english we include these two words all the time to mean you and I or, them. It's not that complicated. We say things like:

We'll see each other later on.
We love each other very much.

* You can of course use one another as well in all of these.

But in Portuguese of Brazil it's not always so simple or clear. As always, there are several ways to convey this. Saying um ao outro in Portuguese is usually the more proper way to say "one another" and, "each other". I always used to get this wrong and say instead "uma à outra" -- thinking that this was short for "one person (pessoa) to another (pessoa). But it's not. It's masculine by default: UM AO OUTRO! (unless you are specifically talking about one woman to another woman etc).

In everyday Portuguese conversation, things get more casual. Saying the um ao outro comes off a bit clunky in most sentences. It's more common to try either a reflexive preposition (se, nos) or even another approach.

Below, I'm going to show you some example using the um ao outro followed by other versions that are more common, more typical conversation that you'll hear in Brazil.

They take care of each other.

Eles cuidam um do outro.
Eles se cuidam.

They'll meet each other soon.

Eles vão conhecer um ao outro em breve.
Eles vão se conhecer em breve.

They don't get along with each other.

Eles não gostam um do outro. (o verbo GOSTAR sempre exige a "de")
Eles não se dão bem.

The sweater and the pants go with each other.

O sweater e a calça combinam. (No need here for a reflexive preposition)

We have to learn to communicate with each other.

Nós temos que aprender a comunicar um ao outro.
Nós temos que aprender a nos comunicar.

They protect one another.

Eles protegem um ao outro.
Eles se protegem.

We don't have anything to say to each other.

Nós não temos nada a dizer um ao outro.
Nós não temos nada a dizer.

They make each other very happy.

Eles fazem felizes um ao outro.
Elas são felizes.

If we help each other we can get this done soon.

Se nós ajudarmos um ao outro nós vamos terminar logo.
Se nós nos ajudarmos vamos terminar com isso logo.

The less formal approach is much cleaner, shorter - easier to speak

Brazilians will always opt for the smoother sentence. When someone is really speaking the language well, it has a real melody and flow.