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    #1

    Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    Dear teachers and members:

    Knowing full well that PERSON is an indefite third personal pronoun, it seems to me (that) if it is going to be replaced by a reflexive pronoun, it should be by another third personal indefinite reflexive pronoun like ONESELF rather than HIMSELF or HERSELF which are not indefinite reflexive pronouns; someone who is an English native speaker advised me to use HIMSEL or HERSELF instead. Furthermore, that same person also told me (that)
    if the third indefinite personal pronoun were ONE or SOMEONE, ONESELF must be the one to be used. For example:

    a) There isn't enough love capable of filling the emptiness of a person who does not love himself.

    b)
    There isn't enough love capable of filling the emptiness of a person who does not love herself.

    c) There isn't enough love capable of filling the emptiness of someone who does not love oneself.

    d) There isn't enough love capable of filling the emptiness of one who does not love oneself.

    * She also emphasized me that HIMSELF refers to HERSELF too in the above sentence, if true, HERSELF is supposed to do the same for HIMSELF.

    QUESTION:

    Are those sentences grammatically correct?


    Kind regards.


    Last edited by The apprentice; 26-Jan-2015 at 21:49.

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    I am not a teacher.

    There are several issues here, including that of gender neutrality.

    'Himself', apart from when referring to a male, used to be the default, all purpose, general term used when the gender of the person was unknown or irrelevant. For many people this is no longer acceptable, and the choice is then either, 'himself or herself' or using a plural genderless pronoun. This, of course, causes problems of agreement which are either ignored, or avoided by turning the subject into a plural too. e.g. 'There isn't enough love capable of filling the emptiness of people who don't love themselves.'

    As for your sentences, I would probably use a) because I haven't lived in an English speaking country since this became a problem, so anything else seems unnatural.
    I would not say b).
    c) is wrong.
    I don't like d).

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    Your initial hypothesis is incorrect. The word "person" is a noun, not an indefinite pronoun.

    I agree with Roman that casting the sentence in the plural is the best way to avoid the problems.

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    #4

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    Thank you Rover_KE for your correction.

    PERSON is a noun, what makes it indefinite is the article. Moreover, I myself consider it is ungrammatical to use HIMSELF for referring to both genders. If HIMSELF works, HERSELF is supposed to work also.

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    #5

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    Thank you for replying Roman55


    1) What is wrong with sentence (c) and why you don't like (d)?

    2) May not the indefinite reflexive pronoun ONESELF be used as the reflexive pronoun for the indefinite pronoun SOMEONE?
    Last edited by The apprentice; 18-Jan-2015 at 17:53.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    C is incorrect because "oneself" can only be used as the reflexive pronoun for "one". D does that. I have no idea why Roman does not like D.

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    #7

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    May I use the reflexive pronoun THEMSELF as a neutral gender in sentence (c)?


    c)
    There isn't enough love capable of filling the emptiness of someone who does not love themself.

  4. Roman55's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    I am not a teacher.

    The use of 'one' to mean people in general is fine.

    The use of 'oneself' as the object when 'one' is the subject is fine too. 'Lies that one tells oneself'.

    In d), 'one' isn't the subject, and I find the sentence jarring, which is why I don't like it.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    And yet, the reflexive pronoun "oneself" is used correctly.

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    #10

    Re: Third Person Indefinite Reflexive Pronoun vs. Third Person Reflexive Pronouns

    In the 1800s, after centuries of using "they/them/their/etc." as a gender-neutral, 3rd-person singular pronoun, it was decreed that "he/him/his" was to be used instead. This was ignored by many writers, and yet somehow, in the 20th century, it became "correct" to use "he" to refer to men or women, and "incorrect" to use "they" - despite centuries of use. We are now coming back to realizing that the logic of using "he" to refer to men or women is no more logical than using "they" to refer to one person.
    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.

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