This is the sentence:

The image on the screen stares back at Susan with eerie intensity – it is a picture of herself

Microsoft Word would like me to say her, not herself.

  • "her" sounds better than "herself" to me, but I think "herself" is also acceptable. – bcc32 Apr 26 '15 at 20:20
  • I actually think both "her" and "herself" are correct. It's just a matter of style. – Dog Lover Apr 26 '15 at 22:35
  • 1
    herself might be less ambiguous too. Consider an example where she refers to her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend as a derisive "her". – Jim Apr 26 '15 at 22:36

Picture nouns are a well-known special case for reflexivization, and possibly your grammar checker has special rules built in about that case. Do a web search for "picture nouns reflexivization" and you'll get lots of references. But no one understands reflexivization very well, and I certainly wouldn't accept the judgement of a grammar checker. In your example, both reflexive and non-reflexive forms sound okay, to me.

  • 2
    Right. They both sound OK to me, too. This is one of the many peculiarities of Picture Nouns. – John Lawler Apr 26 '15 at 22:04

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