We were doing Reflexive and emphatic pronouns and teacher asked me
to translate a sentence.
I answered: He repaired the car by himself.
She said: It is correct, but we won't use by.
I forgot to asked her why. So I ask you: Why?
That is how it is idiomatic; that is how we say it in English.
Welcome back, svartnik.
Originally Posted by svartnik2
♥♦♣♠ NOT A TEACHER ♥♦♣♠
As for the sentence in question, there's nothing wrong with the use of by with a reflexive pronoun. It means the same with or without the preposition.
Originally Posted by bagzi94
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
(1) I agree with Key Member Engee: you were correct.
(2) This is a very confusing matter. It all depends on what books
you want to believe. In fact, it may also depend on how loudly you
pronounce the reflexive pronoun.
(3) He himself repaired the car. = emphasizing "he."
Maybe he is super rich. Yet he repaired the car. You cannot
believe it. So in speech, you would stress (say loudly) the
The king HIMSELF (!!!) cooked dinner. I can't believe it!!!
(4) He repaired the car HIMSELF. Many books say it may mean the
same as sentence (3). (You can't believe it.)
(5) He repaired the car by himself. = I think that all books agree that
it means = he repaired the car alone. Nobody assisted him.
The king cooked dinner by himself. You are NOT emphasizing the fact of his
being the king. You just want to report that he cooked dinner
without any help.
(a) The problem is that many people delete (drop) the preposition
"by." So the reader does not know whether your meaning is
sentence (4) or sentence (5). In other words, are you emphasizing
your surprise that "he" actually fixed his own car or are you just saying
that nobody else helped him?
(6) I am guessing that you were just saying that he fixed the car
without anyone else's help. So I think that many books (and teachers)
would agree that you did, indeed, write the "correct" answer. On the
other hand, your teacher was not "wrong," for many native speakers
delete the "by" when they SHOULD use it. For example:
(7) Mother: Would you please help me wash the dishes?
Son: Do I have to? I want to get on the computer now.
Mother: I'm awfully tired.
Son: I'm tired, too. It took a lot of energy to eat all that food.
Mother: OK! Forget it! I'll wash the dishes (by) myself.
(8) My respectful advice:
(a) If you are "surprised," put the reflexive pronoun after the
noun: The president HIMSELF called me. I am still in shock!!! I cannot
believe that a president would call a nobody like me!!!
(b) If you only want to report that someone did something without
any help, always use "by":
The president called me by himself. He did not ask a secretary to
help him in any way. He even looked in the telephone directory to
find my number. What a cool dude!
Last edited by TheParser; 19-Mar-2011 at 16:03.
It's redundant: you can omit the phrase by himself without changing the meaning of the sentence. That's what your teacher means.
Originally Posted by bagzi94
It is not redundant. As TheParser pointed out, " (5) He repaired the car by himself. = [...] he repaired the car alone. Nobody assisted him".
Originally Posted by Soup
If we omit 'by', we lose the full 'alone' sense.
He repaired the car himself.
This suggests that he did not get somebody else (a mechanic, for example) to repair it for him, but it does not necessarily mean that he did not receive any help.
He repaired the car by himself. This clearly tells us that nobody helped him.