English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I know that many questions on topics similar to this one have been asked before, but I have read many of them and still not able to solve my problem. You could attribute it to my poor command of English. My question relates to two weird sentences, and I want to know which sentence is correct:

I am so hungry, it feels like my tummy is eating myself.


I am so hungry, it feels like my tummy is eating me.

share|improve this question
"My tummy" is not "me". Myself can only occur as a direct object when the subject of the clause is I. – John Lawler Mar 29 '14 at 17:55
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The reflexive pronouns (the ones that end in -self) can only be used when the person or thing they refer to is the same as the subject in the sentence.

In your sentence, the subject is my tummy. The pronoun at the end (the object) is me/myself.

If you use a pronoun instead of the noun phrase my tummy, it has to be it: “How is my tummy? It is hungry”. That means it is a pronoun in the third person—not the same as me, which is the first person.

Therefore, you cannot use the reflexive pronoun; it must be:

I am so hungry it feels like my tummy is eating me.

If the object being eaten was not you as a person, but the tummy that is also doing the eating, a reflexive pronoun would be called for—but then, it would not be myself, since the tummy is third person, but itself:

I am so hungry it feels like my tummy is eating itself.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.