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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Criminal Sentence 125: You or yourself?

Slightly revised from earlier (hope it's clearer!)
From something I edited yesterday:

"If, after a short time of giving to someone less fortunate than you, you still feel that bad, then volunteer some more. "

Which "you" should be "yourself"? "Yourself" is a reflexive, which means that you're going back to the subject "you."

I gave myself a present (not I gave me a present).
He likes himself (not He likes him).
...after a short time of giving to someone less fortunate than yourself, you... (not than you).

You can't use a reflexive unless you're referring back to something already stated:
I sent flowers to him and to myself (you're referring back to "I").
He gave flowers to Jane and me (not to Jane and myself). (You can't say to myself here because you haven't stated I or me.)

5 comments:

jenifer said...

Can you clarify the rule on not using reflexive with more than two subjects, because the example sentence wouldn't use reflexive even without Jane:

He gave flowers to me. (not myself)

But you would, I think, use reflexive in this sentence:

I bought ice cream for Jane and myself.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Hi. You're right that you would use "myself" in the ice cream sentence--because you're referring back to the "I" you already stated. I guess I'm having trouble expressing myself (note the reflexive). I'm referring back to myself. If I said that "he" was doing the referring, I couldn't use "myself" because I haven't referred to "I" or "me."
I hope I made myself clear. If not, please berate me again (or try to explain it better yourself!).

jenifer said...

No berating at all, I promise! People using "myself" incorrectly is a definite pet peeve.

I just don't understand this particular part of the post:

"You don't use a reflexive when there are two or more subjects:
He gave flowers to Jane and me (not to Jane and myself)."

Maybe I'm not getting what the word "subjects" refers to?

The Sentence Sleuth said...

I'm going to revise the post to make it clearer (I hope).

Madame Lefty said...

Oh, you're such a doll!

Thanks for clarifying the post.