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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    Letter writing

    What, if any, rules apply to references to "your" in formal letter writing. For example if one wrote "I need to consult with yourself on this matter" would it be more correct to write " I need to consult with your good self on this matter"

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
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    #2

    Re: Letter writing

    "Yourself" is usually a reflexive pronoun; it is an object, but it refers to the same thing as the subject. In a sentence like "You washed yourself", it is clear that "you" and "yourself" refer to the same person. Compare these two sentences:

    He talked to him. [He spoke to another male person -- perfectly normal.]
    He talked to himself. [He spoke, but not to anyone else -- perhaps he was going mad.]

    Reflexive pronouns can also be used to emphasise the subject: "I made it myself" emphasises the point that I had no help from anyone else.

    But in your sentence, "yourself" doesn't refer to the subject. Many people use reflexive pronouns as a sort of general-purpose emphasis, or because they think that reflexive pronouns are more formal than non-reflexive pronouns. This is non-standard English, and you should avoid this usage in formal letter-writing.

    "Your good self" is grammatically correct, because it is not actually a reflexive pronoun. However, it may be seen as an attempt to flatter the recipient, and that's not acceptable in many cultures -- it comes across as insincere.

    A simple, straightforward "you" is the best choice here. Formal letters should be polite, but brief and neutral in tone.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Nov 2002
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    #3

    Re: Letter writing

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    "Yourself" is usually a reflexive pronoun; it is an object, but it refers to the same thing as the subject. In a sentence like "You washed yourself", it is clear that "you" and "yourself" refer to the same person. Compare these two sentences:

    He talked to him. [He spoke to another male person -- perfectly normal.]
    He talked to himself. [He spoke, but not to anyone else -- perhaps he was going mad.]

    Reflexive pronouns can also be used to emphasise the subject: "I made it myself" emphasises the point that I had no help from anyone else.

    But in your sentence, "yourself" doesn't refer to the subject. Many people use reflexive pronouns as a sort of general-purpose emphasis, or because they think that reflexive pronouns are more formal than non-reflexive pronouns. This is non-standard English, and you should avoid this usage in formal letter-writing.

    "Your good self" is grammatically correct, because it is not actually a reflexive pronoun. However, it may be seen as an attempt to flatter the recipient, and that's not acceptable in many cultures -- it comes across as insincere.

    A simple, straightforward "you" is the best choice here. Formal letters should be polite, but brief and neutral in tone.
    Excellent answer!

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