This Redundancy is Self-Evident

Women are committing financial suicide to themselves, Oprah, 2/13/08. Suicide is already something that people do to themselves, not to other people, so adding the reflexive pronoun themselves is redundant. It means that women are killing themselves financially to themselves. Now, that’s verbal suicide if ever I’ve heard it.

The reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. (Notice that there is no themself, ourself, theirselves, or hisself in that list, so please don’t ever say those non-words again.) When you use one of the reflexive pronouns, do not use a -self word in the same sentence; and when you use a -self word, do not use a reflexive pronoun in the same sentence. Let’s look at some examples of what I’m talking about.

· He has no self-respect. (Self-word with no reflexive pronoun, so it’s correct)

· He has no respect for himself. (Reflexive pronoun with no self-word, so it’s correct)

· He has no self-respect for himself. (Self-word and reflexive pronoun) This is incorrect because self-respect is already respect for oneself, so adding the himself makes the sentence He has no respect for himself for himself, which, obviously, is one himself too many.

You cannot have self-control over yourself, be self-absorbed with yourself, or be self-deprecating to yourself. The problem is redundant, not to mention self-evident.


Sherry’s Grammar List and Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

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