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    #1

    Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    'Reciprocate' according to the dictionary, means to respond to a gesture or action by making a corresponding one. It seems to apply to abstract things like a favour, kindness, feelings, wishes, compliments, etc.

    Can the word be used with physical things such as, to reciprocate to a letter or message?

  1. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    Welcome to UsingEnglish.com, tedmc!
    Quote Originally Posted by tedmc View Post
    ... to reciprocate to a letter or message?
    I would simply use 'reply to'.

    I am not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    Thanks, Matthew.

    I know 'reply to' or 'respond to' can be used with a letter or a message.

    But my question is, can 'reciprocate' also be used?
    Last edited by tedmc; 25-Aug-2014 at 19:11. Reason: typo errors

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    #4

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    Some input from the teachers will be much appreciated. Thanks.

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    #5

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    No, you can't "reciprocate to" a letter.

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    #6

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    So, does that mean reciprocate can only be used for things which are abstract and not for something physical?

    I have seen it used for compliments and well wishes which are something like messages, so I thought it may also be used with letters.
    After all, the word just means a mutual exchange, doesn't it?

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    #7

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    You can't "reciprocate to" anything. It doesn't take an object like that.

    "She wrote to me and I reciprocated." That is fine.

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    #8

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    But one can reciprocate (to) another's favours, kindness, gestures, wishes, right?

    She wrote to me and I reciprocated. I wrote back. Correct?
    Last edited by tedmc; 25-Aug-2014 at 19:57.

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    #9

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    Try googling "reciprocating engine". That usage is the only one I know of that uses reciprocate in a physical sense (and it doesn't use the verb in any other form).

    That said, it would make sense if someone said 'I pulled his hand, but he didn't reciprocate"; it would just be more natural to say 'I pulled his hand, but he didn't pull back".

    b

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    #10

    Re: Use of the word 'reciprocate'

    I wouldn't say I "reciprocated to" anything.

    You could say "I reciprocated his greeting," but not "I reciprocated to his greeting."

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