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  1. #1
    edmondjanet is offline Member
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    Default About reflexive pronoun

    Sir,
    A small baby can't take care of himself, itself, or oneself. I quote this from our school test paper. Which reflexive pronoun is correct? and
    What is the reflexive pronoun of doctor, teacher, engineer.
    Thank You.

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by edmondjanet View Post
    Sir,

    A small baby can't take care of himself, itself, or oneself. I quote this from our school test paper. Which reflexive pronoun is correct? As you do not have the option of choosing 'him/herself', you'd need to pick 'itself'.


    What is the reflexive pronoun of doctor, teacher, engineer?
    You'll find the following interesting (it's from the WordReference dictionary):

    themself
    ▶pronoun [third person sing.]
    informal - used instead of ‘himself’ or ‘herself’ to refer to a person of unspecified sex.
    usage: The standard reflexive form corresponding to they and them is themselves. The singular form themself has been used recently to correspond to the singular use of they when referring to a person of unspecified sex, as in helping someone to help themself. However, themself is not regarded as good English, and themselves should be used instead.

    Rover

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Rover
    I assume that that advice means that instead of writing "A doctor should look after themself", one should change this to "Doctors should look after themselves."

    Is the first form really used? Does anyone here use it?

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Is the first form really used? Does anyone here use it?
    Now that I have finally come round to accepting 'they/them/their' with reference to a singular noun, I am beginning to see a point in 'themself'.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  5. #5
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    I'm not there yet. I've been fine with "their" as a replacement for "his/hers" for ages, as well as "they" or "he/she."

    But the disconnect between plural "them" and singular "self" within the same word is still jarring for me. Ask me again in 10 years. Or maybe even sooner.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 26-Jan-2012 at 15:23.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
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    shannico is offline Member
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I assume that that advice means that instead of writing "A doctor should look after themself", one should change this to "Doctors should look after themselves."

    Is the first form really used? Does anyone here use it?
    I totally agree. However, may I say that I've come across itself referred to babies in a lot of post-natal literature. And each time I cringe...
    Maybe it's the fact that I'm not a native speaker. But I've always refused to use IT/ITSELF when referring to a baby.
    Most authors of post-natal books use she or he to refer to babies. However, I've noticed she is more common. I wonder why...Penelope Leach switches from one to the other depending on the chapter in her book Your Baby and Child - great read for those who have babies or young children!
    Last edited by shannico; 26-Jan-2012 at 13:41. Reason: italics added

  7. #7
    ngoc_lan is offline Member
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I assume that that advice means that instead of writing "A doctor should look after themself", one should change this to "Doctors should look after themselves."
    It's the first time I see "Themself". Can you show me how and when to use it?
    I've read on a book that these 2 sentences is equivalent:

    1.If your kid wants to succeed in the test, they will have to work themself very hard.

    2.If your kid wants to succeed in the test, he or she will have to work himself or herself very hard.

    Are both of them correct? And I don't understand why they can replace "your kid" with "they".
    I hope to hear from you soon!
    Last edited by ngoc_lan; 26-Jan-2012 at 14:15. Reason: spelling mistake

  8. #8
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by ngoc_lan View Post
    It's the first time I see "Themself". Can you show me how and when to use it?
    I was responding to the quote given in post #2 by Rover.

    Besides, you don't want to ask someone how to use "themself" when they've just written, "Is the first form really used? Does anyone here use it?" This is an admission that I don't have the answer.

  9. #9
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by ngoc_lan View Post
    It's the first time I see "Themself". Can you show me how and when to use it?
    I've read on a book that these 2 sentences is equivalent:

    1.If your kid wants to succeed in the test, they will have to work themself very hard.

    2.If your kid wants to succeed in the test, he or she will have to work himself or herself very hard.

    Are both of them correct? And I don't understand why they can replace "your kid" with "they".
    I hope to hear from you soon!
    1. I don't find your use of the reflexive pronoun here natural at all. A coach might work his team hard in practice, but I would never say "He worked himself hard" in reference to studying.

    2. You can replace "your kid" with "they" because we've been doing that for years and years now as a gender-neutral, singular pronoun to avoid the clumsy "he or she."

    3 I don't have a problem with "itself" for an infant as an abract refernce.. "It" is a bit offensive when the child is right there and you're pointing to this child. "Is it teething yet?" But to say "A newborn baby can't look after itself" is fine.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: About reflexive pronoun

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I assume that that advice means that instead of writing "A doctor should look after themself", one should change this to "Doctors should look after themselves."

    Is the first form really used? Does anyone here use it?
    I fine with A doctor should look after themself.

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