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Is it correct to use the word "itself" in the following cases. I have seen many people using "itself" in the following cases

  1. I read the note yesterday itself (to mean - I already read the note yesterday)
  2. I met the doctor in the morning itself. (to mean - I already met the doctor in the morning)

if the usage of "itself" is itself wrong, what would be the correct usage or alternative to express the meaning mentioned in the brackets

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Itself" is not used in this way in British or American English. I suspect that it may be used in other Englishes: Irish and Indian come to mind, but I'm not sure.

It does seem to fill a hole, as there is not an obvious word in UK or US which fulfils the same role, of emphasising the time.

I would say "just yesterday" and "just this morning": these are not quite the same meaning, as they are emphasising how recent the time was, whereas I interpret the original remarks as emphasising the time for some reason but not necessarily its recency.

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It's used very often in Indian English. If someone were to ask you, "Didn't you read the note I sent you?" you might say, "Of course I did. I read it yesterday itself." Most Indian languages have a word for emphasising a noun or a pronoun. It's like saying, "She did it herself." Unfortunately, as you say, just doesn't quite carry the same meaning. What we then have to instead say is, "Yes, I did. In fact, I read it yesterday." –  Tragicomic Jan 19 '11 at 11:54
    
So the replies that say it is incorrect are quite simply wrong? Thank you. –  Colin Fine Jan 19 '11 at 13:58
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I should have clarified that using "itself" in this manner is a colloquialism and considered ungrammatical. It is not used in any but the most informal speech. –  Tragicomic Jan 19 '11 at 16:11
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if the usage of "itself" is itself wrong, what would be the correct usage or alternative to express the meaning mentioned in the brackets

What you've already put in the brackets is pretty good, though you'd want some commas in there and a few tweaks to make it read better:

I already read the note, yesterday.

and

I have already met the doctor, this morning.

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No, the two examples you cite don't sound too good.

And in any case "itself" doesn't carry the meaning of 'already'. It is used to place emphasis on the 'thing' to which it refers. So, reworking your first example:

"I got this information from the note itself, not from the explanation from Dave or John"

Pre-edit, just so Joe's comment makes sense:

"So was it Dave or John who told you about that message I left?"
"Neither, I read the note itself."

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What I meant was people use the sentences 1 and 2 to imply or mean what has been mentioned in the brackets. I had a feeling that people are using it wrong. And thanks for the answer! –  Ram Jan 18 '11 at 12:17
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In that last example, I'd more likely say that "I read the note myself ". Contrast with "I got this information from the note itself, not from the explanation from Dave or John". –  Joe Kearney Jan 18 '11 at 12:18
    
@Joe, you're right, I started reworking the second example, but similarly kept coming up with "the doctor himself". –  Benjol Jan 18 '11 at 12:25
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