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  1. Member
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    #1

    She had to drive herself to the hospital.

    Hi folks,

    In the sentence: "She had to drive herself to the hospital," should we regard 'herself' as the object of the verb "drive", just like when we say, "I'll drive you home." Or is it possible to interpret the sentence the same as "She had to drive to the hospital by herself"?

    Thanks in advance.

    emop0608

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    Retired English Teacher
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    #2

    Re: She had to drive herself to the hospital.

    Yes to both questions.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: She had to drive herself to the hospital.

    I don't agree that the two have the same meaning.

    The original clearly suggests that "She" had a medical issue that required her to go to the hospital and there was no one to drive her. It's even possible she had to load her two kids in the back of the car because she couldn't leave them home alone.

    It's also possible she had to go because a loved one was very sick or injured. Either way, the suggestion is that it would have been better if someone else were able to drive her, either because of her own medical issue or because she was in a state of mental anxiety.

    The version with "by herself" said no one went with her. To me, this is far more open in meaning. They planned to carpool, but she ended up going alone. She didn't know where it was, and someone was going to go with her to show the way. Or, it would have been nice if someone was there to keep her company while she waited for someone else.

    So the first suggests it would have been better if someone else did the driving, and the second suggests it would have been better if she had had some company or a guide.

    Note that it's the "had to" take suggests that this was a problem. If it simply said "She drove to the hospital by herself" there is not the same level of "why wasn't someone else with her?" as the "She had to drive to..."
    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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