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    #1

    Red face a proofreading question

    Competitors pull a funny face without using their hands or something else to help them.

    I was wondering if the mistake is something --> anything
    or
    them --> themselves.

    Colloquially speaking, these need not be changed but since I have to make one correction, which one should I go for?

    many thanks

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    #2

    Re: a proofreading question

    Which ones have you identified so far?

    'Themselves' is wrong.

    Rover

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    #3

    Re: a proofreading question

    why is themselves wrong please?

    them is referring to the competitors themselves, right?


    so, something else should be changed to anything else?

    thanks

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: a proofreading question

    We just don't need to use "themselves" in that kind of construction.

    They don't use their hands to help them = Correct
    They don't use their hands to help themselves = Incorrect

    We don't use gloves to help us = Correct
    We don't use gloves to help ourselves = Incorrect

    They don't need to use props to help them = Correct
    They don't need to use props to help themselves = Incorrect

    He uses a dictionary to help him = Correct
    He uses a dictionary to help himself = Incorrect

    As far as the original question goes, I agree with you that "without using their hands or anything else to help them" is better.

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    #5

    Re: a proofreading question

    that's very interesting. We were taught that reflexive pronouns are used when subject = object.
    E.g. I hit myself. or (you) help yourself [e.g. to the dishes]
    So, do you have clues why it isn't a reflexive pronoun that we should use in the construction:
    we + use + XX + to help + object pronoun

    thanks again

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    #6

    Re: a proofreading question

    To help oneself is a fixed expression or idiom meaning 'to take as much as one wants'. It is different from the usual meaning of the verb help.

    tohelp oneself

    1. (reflexive) To take something freely; to serve oneself without restraint.
    2. He said I could help myself to the chocolates.
    1. (Wiktionary)






  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: a proofreading question

    "I help myself" is different from "I use a camera to help me". As Rover explained "to help oneself" has a fixed meaning. Having said that, there are contexts where it can be used in the general sense of "help":

    You could help yourself by using some gloves. (The stress here is on the fact that you are helping you.)
    You could use some gloves to help you. (The stres here is on the fact that it is the gloves which are helping you.)

    He helped himself to dozens of chocolates from the stand. (He took them, probably without permission).
    He wanted to lose weight so he helped himself by giving up eating chocolate.
    He wanted to lose weight so he used a calorie calculator to help him.

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