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  1. #1
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Reflexive pronouns meaning alone

    1. Did the boy draw that picture himself?
    2. Did the boy draw that picture by himself?

    Do the above sentences in bold both mean "alone", "without help"?

    Could anybody help, please?

  2. #2
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Reflexive pronouns meaning alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    1. Did the boy draw that picture himself?
    2. Did the boy draw that picture by himself?

    Do the above sentences in bold both mean "alone", "without help"?

    Could anybody help, please?
    Yes, they do.

  3. #3
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Reflexive pronouns meaning alone

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    Yes, they do.
    Thanks, Mike.

    A: Was she with friends?
    B: No, she was by herself.

    I think if we leave out the "by" in the above context, it is wrong. Am I correct?

  4. #4
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Reflexive pronouns meaning alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    Thanks, Mike.

    A: Was she with friends?
    B: No, she was by herself.

    I think if we leave out the "by" in the above context, it is wrong. Am I correct?
    If you leave out "by," it is wrong.

    Some people seem to feel a big difference between "himself" and "by himself" ("I did it, versus someone else doing it" and "I did it and no one else helped me at all") but others don't feel that difference.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 21-Sep-2013 at 17:02.
    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.

  5. #5
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Reflexive pronouns meaning alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    If you leave out "by," it is wrong.

    Some people seem to feel a big difference between "himself" and "by himself" ("I did it, versus someone else doing it" and "I did it and no one else helped me at all") but others doing feel that the difference is so clear cut.
    Thanks Barb_D.

    quoted "Some people seem to feel a big difference between "himself" and "by himself".

    As a non-native speaker, I think one of the reasons is that many grammar books emphasize by myself/by yourself meaning "alone", "without help". Some only said that reflexive pronouns can be used where the subject and object are the same people.
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 21-Sep-2013 at 17:15.

  6. #6
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    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Reflexive pronouns meaning alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    Thanks Barb_D.

    quoted "Some people seem to feel a big difference between "himself" and "by himself".

    As a non-native speaker, I think one of the reasons is that many grammar books emphasize by myself/by yourself meaning "alone", "without help". Some only said that reflexive pronouns can be used where the subject and object are the same people.
    I agree with Barb's comments. In some cases, "himself" and "by himself" have different meanings. For me, it is about the task itself. In your example, drawing a picture can be done by a single person without any help. Therefore, the meanings are close to identical. However, if the task were building a house, one could say "He built the house himself". The would mean that he did not have professional contractors build it. But, it is unlikely that a man could build a house without any help from anybody. So, it would be unlikely to say "He built the house by himself".

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