Let's say, for some reason, that it's preferable to avoid pronouns when referring to someone. With most forms of pronouns, it's easy to do so by substituting the appropriate name in. Consider:

She likes the bread of her making.

Pronouns can easily be avoided:

Alice likes the bread of Alice's making

How can reflexive pronouns be avoided? e.g.

He feels happy about himself

  • 5
    Why would you want to avoid them? – Blessed Geek Mar 4 '15 at 2:01
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    I have to agree with @BlessedGeek. Are you trying to win a bet or something? – Robusto Mar 4 '15 at 3:02
  • It's very hard to give outlines for how to do something that could, would, and should never, under any circumstances, be done. There is no naturally occurring situation in English language usage where it would be preferable to avoid using pronouns. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 4 '15 at 3:08
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    Ian MacDonald doesn't speak about Ian MacDonald in anything but the third person. – Ian MacDonald Mar 4 '15 at 16:15

I would suggest replacing "happy about himself" with an adjective that conveys the entire meaning:

"He feels self-content"

  • "Alice likes the bread of Alice's making"
  • "Alice feels happy about Alice"

Both of these sound about the same level of naturalness to me (it's not very high). Using a person's name to replace their pronouns, there is obviously no special reflexive form of the name, so I would just use the name as it is for all grammatical contexts.

It might be objected that the sentence above makes it seem that Alice is happy about another person named Alice, but the issue is really analogous to that with possessive pronouns: "Alice likes Alice's bread" sounds very strange compared to "Alice likes her bread".

In general, any long stretch of discourse referring to a person without using any pronouns is difficult to pull off without sounding unnatural. If you can use a pronoun instead, it's much more convenient to do so. If not, you can resort to restructuring:

  • Alice is one of those people who feel happy about who they are.

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