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Wanted to know which form is better and why

One has to cook himself?


One has to cook themself?

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closed as off-topic by TimLymington, FumbleFingers, RyeɃreḁd, Mari-Lou A, tchrist Apr 22 '14 at 13:59

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Why would anyone want to prepare their own body for consumption? It seems self-defeating. – Barrie England Apr 21 '14 at 8:43
Thanks @BarrieEngland :D so it sounds like someone is trying to cook his own body .:) WHat would you suggest should be the correct sentence? – Manish Apr 21 '14 at 8:44
There was an old joke when I was a kid: Did you hear about the man who ran over himself? He asked his wife to run over to the shops for him but she said no, so he ran over himself. – Neil W Apr 21 '14 at 9:04
@BarrieEngland thank you – Manish Apr 21 '14 at 11:54
"cook for oneself". (If you don't know the gender) – Mitch Apr 21 '14 at 12:32
up vote 6 down vote accepted

To be sure, it has to be:

One has to cook oneself

(Oneself goes with one, neither himself nor themselves.)

The above sentence is grammatical, and makes sense. However, it could be ambiguous, as comments have already shown. Overcome that by including a preposition:

One has to cook by oneself

Incidentally, the one - oneself structure is less common these days, especially in AmE.

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Or for oneself, perhaps. – Neil W Apr 21 '14 at 10:39
@Neil I would agree with for. However, it could also introduce another ambiguity: cooking by whom is not the same as cooking for whom. I avoided that. – Kris Apr 22 '14 at 5:07
To say 'to cook by oneself' means that one is alone in cooking. It might imply cooking for your own meal or for someone else. That's ambiguity. Can you explain the ambiguity with 'for'? – Mitch Apr 22 '14 at 11:40
@Mitch: Clearly the reverse: you haven't ruled out the possibility of two people cooking food for just one of them. – Charles Apr 22 '14 at 14:08
@Charles: I have no idea what you're saying. In everyday usage, one commonly uses 'cook for'; 'cook by' is rare and means something special. Since the OP doesn't specify anything at all, the former is better, whatever the meanings and ambiguities you can come up with. I am saying this for non-native speakers (like the OP), so that they won't make the mistake of saying something that means something else than what they meant. – Mitch Apr 22 '14 at 15:16

I would suggest:I have to do my own cooking.

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"One has to cook for oneself" would be good. "One has to cook by oneself" does not mean the same thing; it means you have to cook with no one else around, or no one helping you. "One has to cook for oneself" means that your food (that you will eat) must be cooked by you; no one will do it for you.

"You have to cook for yourself" is a common way of expressing the same idea, at least in informal speech. Depending on the context it could mean either the same as "one has to cook for oneself" (e.g.: 'If you live in this house you have to cook for yourself"), or "you" could actually refer specifically to the person being addressed (e.g. 'Since you are a vegetarian (and the rest of us are not), you will have to cook for yourself').

Note that above I wrote: '"One has to cook for oneself" means that your food (that you will eat) must be cooked by you; no one will do it for you.' Without even being aware of it I switched from using 'one' to using 'you', which feels more natural to me here. I suppose if I wanted to stick with 'one' I could have written: '"One has to cook for oneself" means that one must cook one's own food, no one else will do it.'

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Funny how for can mean by (of course it does) -- "to cook for oneself means that ... must be cooked by you;" -- read that again! One also could cook for oneself ("that you will eat"). There are two entirely different aspects. – Kris Apr 22 '14 at 5:12

it should be "they have to cook by themselves" or "he has to cook by himself"

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thanks for the answer! – Manish Apr 21 '14 at 9:01

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