In the latest South Park episode, I noticed a line:

We have so many abandoned babies and not enough people like yourself who care.

Which kinda struck me, because I'd expect it to be people like you.

Is the original quote broken, or are both correct, representing a different meaning?

  • Damn I was meaning to ask this! But in the more general sense, for example, I also hear things like 'This has already been discussed by Bob and myself.' – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 11:05
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    I guess "yourself" refers to the personality of a known person. I'm wondering about Google Ngram result. – user8568 May 26 '11 at 11:13
  • @Boob I don't understand what you mean by 'personality'? The results in google book search give me the impression that it is an attempt to show respect where using the pronoun 'you' could feel too familiar. Perhaps because we lack a formal 2nd person pronoun in English. – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 11:26
  • @z7sg: I mean e.g. "You will attract people like yourself" means "like yourself in personality and traits". – user8568 May 26 '11 at 11:40
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    Related to english.stackexchange.com/questions/1176/… – JoseK May 26 '11 at 12:52

You can find that yourself is

yourself, pronoun

1 used when both the subject and object of the verb are you
Be careful with that knife or you'll cut yourself!

2 used to give special attention to the subject of the sentence
Did you make the dress yourself?
You can do that yourself.

The second meaning is not reflective and does not require "you" to be previously mentioned. The meaning is simply emphasized, such as in:

not stressed

people like you

vs stressed

people like you yourself / people like yourself

Some further examples from Merriam-Webster's dictionary of English usage

A secret, kept from all the rest / Between yourself and me. - Lewis Carroll, "She's All My Fancy Painted Him," ca. 1854

Get me some good left-handers like yourself and Robinson - Robert Frost, letter, 23 Jan. 1921

In all this I look to nothing but the happiness of yourself, Mr. Randolph, and the dear children - Thomas Jefferson, letter, 27 Feb. 1809

Those who, like yourself, know what they are about - Walter W. Skeat, letter, in K. M. Elisabeth Murray, Caught in the Web of Words, 1977

EDIT2: I feel that choice of the first dictionary might have been unlucky, here is oxford, where I think the distinction is made perfectly clear:

1 [reflexive] used to refer to the person being addressed as the object of a verb or preposition when they are also the subject of the clause

2 [emphatic] you personally (used to emphasize the person being addressed)

The way I read the second meaning is completely unrelated to the first; under second meaning it is not reflexive, simply the meaning of yourself is you personally (try to substitute phrase "you personally" instead of "yourself" in the four examples from the MW; I think it does make it clear and very precise and I think that this is a very good definition of actual usage).

  • Your examples of emphasis are different from the example from the OP because in yours the 2nd person pronoun is already present. – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 14:45
  • Actually the examples from english.stackexchange.com/questions/1176/… are better, there is even direct mention of the form 'like myself' (so the only question is if replacing it with yourself is permitted). – Unreason May 26 '11 at 15:02
  • Following it to books.google.com/… I would say that there is plenty of evidence. – Unreason May 26 '11 at 15:06

"Yourself" could have been used in a different way. "Yourself" can be used as an emphatic appositive of you, as in "You yourself did it."
"Yourself" can also be used to refer to someone personally, like in the example you gave. However, "Yourself" is a reflexive pronoun, which means it must be preceded by a noun or pronoun which refers to it.

"You" is a pronoun that is used to address someone personally most of the time. Sometimes it is used to address several people, as in "You are all clever."

In this case, "youself" is being used in the same way as "you" : to refer to the person being talked to. There is no difference in meaning, and none of them are incorrect.

  • But you can't replace you by yourself everywhere. For example, "I'd like to speak to yourself." is definitely infelicitous. – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 11:10
  • I hope my edit to "yourself" explains it. – Thursagen May 26 '11 at 11:14
  • Can you reference #2? I doubt this usage will appear in any grammar references. – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 11:17
  • Webster 1913 states: An emphasized or(!) reflexive form of the pronoun. Therefore it does not have to be reflexive if it is the emphasized form. – Unreason May 26 '11 at 14:43
  • Neither reflexive nor emphasized: myself presented to him a bronze sword I don't 'get' what it means though. – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 14:51

Whenever doubts arise, you may choose to stick with the most common usage and, usually, you'll be fine.

But a quick search reveals that they're both correct, meaning that such expressions exists. You can find a reference on the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, the third entry.

There is also a mention of such usage on the site Perfect your English.

  • Interesting that it's on OALD but not the Oxford Dictionaries search. The OALD entry doesn't explain the meaning either. What is the meaning? Anyway, it may be accepted but I still hate it. :) To me it sounds... smarmy. – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 14:33
  • @z7sg: I couldn't find it elsewhere, but that example is quite the exact one the OP asked about, no? I quoted it also considering that... I'm not the most expert and I still think that it's better in such cases to stick with the "official" usage, but I can't ignore the fact that it's listed in some important dictionary... Do you agree? (I'm asking seriously, not being sarcastic) :D – Alenanno May 26 '11 at 14:36
  • No I do agree... I think there is more to this than meets the eye as you can see from google books this is not a silly grammatical error but equally, it isn't correct to say that they are equivalent in meaning and usage. Have you read nohat's answer? It's quite interesting: english.stackexchange.com/questions/1176/… – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 14:41
  • @z7sg I read his answer, he confirmes that they're correct, no? Then... yes I agree, they're not completely interchangeable, but you see, my point was more "they're not wrong", rather than "use both whenever you like". – Alenanno May 26 '11 at 15:00
  • @Alenanno Yes, I'm not disagreeing with you as such, just looking for the ultimate definitive answer! – z7sg Ѫ May 26 '11 at 15:39

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