JS Tip 102: From the Writing Workshops: Reflexive Pronouns, Part II

Last week, we went back to an earlier discussion about reflexive pronouns (“myself,” “yourself,” “herself,” etc.) We promised to continue the discussion this week. Bingo. Here we are.  

Reflexive pronouns are what we call “second-mention” words. They require “first-mention” words to refer back to.

Ask yourself this question: “Is there a first-mention word for the reflexive pronoun to refer back to?”

For example— 

They originally called themselves “The Quarrymen.”

         Correct. “Themselves” refers back to “They.”

The derrick collapsed upon itself.

Correct. “Itself” refers back to “The derrick.”

Send the requests to myself.

Dang. Incorrect. There’s no first-mention word for “myself.” Rewrite this to “Send the requests to me.”    

One Small Side Discussion

Go back to the first sentence of our third paragraph: “Ask yourself this question.”

Correct or incorrect?

Incorrect, because there’s no “you” as a first mention. Right?

Whoops. Actually, there is, but it’s implied.

We’re using “imperative” or “command” mode. We’re saying, “[Would you please] ask yourself this question.” You. First mention. Yourself. Second mention. Yeah. That works.    

If you have questions, let us know. (Not “If yourselves have questions.”) We love this stuff.

Next week: We’ll explore the brave-new-world language of texting.