I was helping my spouse to proof read some reports, shes a preschool teacher.

One sentence that seemed very strange to me was:

"... he fed him self confidently."

As far as I explain it to my self, is that one doesn't feed them selves?!

I suggested changing the sentence to:

"... he eats with confidence."

But my spouse pointed out that in her guidelines there is a point (quoted as is)

feeding self confidence

Not really sure what that even means but she used that as a suggestion.

  • 7
    "feeding himself" is perfectly fine, but not "feeding him self". Just consider a sentence like: "The mother was happy when the child began feeding himself" or "The mother was happy when the child fed himself."
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 21:49
  • 2
    This is where a hyphen is required. self-confidence, self-confidently
    – Jim
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 21:56
  • 3
    @Centaurus, "itself" and "themselves" work too, just as well as "himself". I was just pointing out that "himself" works fine with the transitive verb "feed". I thought that was the OP's question.
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:21
  • 3
    Yes, when a young child learns to feed himself/herself it is (after a brief period of dread due to the splattered food) a major milestone in childcare.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:23
  • 1
    And when an adult is recovering from a serious illness, the ability to self-feed may again be a milestone.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:24

2 Answers 2


Well, "him self" should clearly be "himself," but other than that, in the context of a report on a preschooler, "he fed himself confidently" is perfectly fine. A preschooler who feeds himself well is noteworthy.

Those were the days.

  • Yea I suppose in the context of a toddler, the actual actions of eating and feeding are skills that need to be learnt. As an adult it just sound wrong. I wouldn't say, "Yea man, I fed myself that Quarter Pounder" Unless somebody was being sarcastic or a trying to exaggerate they stuffed their faces with the food. I think I get it now. Thanks
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 21:59
  • 3
    "Himself" is the most likely meaning, but if the teacher was talking about the toddler feeding the playgroup's pet gerbil, "he fed him self-confidently" would make sense.
    – alephzero
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 23:46

I feed myself. My wife feeds herself. I can feed her. She can feed me. I guess that at this point, and so far, I can and do feed myself with confidence (that I will get everything I want into my mouth without assistance). I am still reasonable neat and can keep most of the meal confined to me and my eating utensils. I hope to be able to continue for some time.

I suppose I could convince some unstable person to put a finger or two into their mouth and to try to eat his or her "self;" but, that would be unseemly and ungrammatical.

  • Thanks, this made the term itself clear to me - it's about "feeding yourself" in the sense of being able to eat on your own! That was somehow unclear to me first.
    – Sir Jane
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 8:33

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