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What is the difference between you and yourself in the following context?

  • My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like yourself can call him by his name.
  • My dear Professor, surely a sensible person like you can call him by his name.
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I feel like "you" is a more personal term, and "yourself" is more like a straightfoward term. –  thinly veiled question mark Jun 5 '12 at 4:49
    
Hmm..I think "you" sounds more straightforward, and "yourself" sounds like the speaker is trying to be fancy. I get annoyed at the overuse of "self". For example, I often hear sentences such as: "The man gave apples to Ann and myself." Why not just say "me"? –  Julia Jun 7 '12 at 4:17

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Both are grammatical. Pronouns like yourself are reflexive pronouns and they have two main uses. One is to ‘reflect’ the action described in the verb back onto the subject, as in ‘I hurt myself’. The other is to emphasise the doer or the recipient of an action, as in ‘I did it myself’. In your example, yourself is used slightly differently in that it’s preceded by a preposition. The effect is to draw greater attention to what the professor, as a sensible person, might be permitted to do.

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This looks like an untriggered reflexive. –  tchrist Jun 5 '12 at 13:11

The reflexive pronoun yourself is the marked form here. To me it suggests that the speaker believes it shows a little more deference than the unmarked you.

And surely you mean surely not surly!

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The Use of youself if more appropriate in that you are describing the qualities of a person. "Yourself" is generally used when you are implying possession. In your example sentence, the person's possession here is the quality or character of sensibility. USe Yourself after your decribe someone or after you state the someone's possession.

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