My girlfriend and I (both being not native speakers) are arguing little bit about grammar used in this sentence.

"music and painting can comfort yourself and it can reduce your stress"

She wonders about the usage of yourself. I think it's ok to use it that sentence.

Is it?

closed as off-topic by TimLymington, jimm101, Scott, tchrist Jan 12 '17 at 20:01

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  • Why downvoted? Please explain .. – Radek Jan 12 '17 at 17:32
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    Your girlfriend is right. Your girlfriend is always right. Get used to it. The reflexive pronoun must refer to the subject (music) in this sentence. Music is not comforting music; it's comforting you. You can say, "You can comfort yourself with music and painting, which can reduce your stress." – deadrat Jan 12 '17 at 17:35
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    You have been struck by the driveby downvoter, a plague on this site. Likely your question is too elementary or didn't show enough attempts at "research". I am not the downvoter. In fact, here, let me help. – deadrat Jan 12 '17 at 17:37
  • thank you for the explanation. I would have no idea what to look for ... – Radek Jan 12 '17 at 17:37
  • Notice that It can reduce your stress has a singular subject (it), but the antecedent is plural (music and painting). Better they can reduce or the relative construction which can reduce. – deadrat Jan 12 '17 at 17:43


Reflexives are used where the subject and object of the verb are the same:

I comfort myself
You can comfort yourself

Here they are not. Music and painting are the subject of the verb, doing the comforting. So the object pronoun must be you. However, it is possible to introduce you as the subject, in which case a reflexive pronoun would be appropriate.

Music and painting can comfort you and reduce your stress.
You can use music and painting to comfort yourself and reduce your stress.

(Note the omission of the superfluous it can in the first example; you don't need to repeat that.)

Sidenote: Reflexives can also be used for emphasis, but in that case they are always paired with the subject pronoun and are not used as object pronouns, as in "I myself use music."

  • Thanks. It's clear now. It was pointed out to me that I use yourself instead of you .... – Radek Jan 12 '17 at 17:47
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    How isn't this just an ELL question? – Lambie Jan 12 '17 at 18:41
  • @Lambie I note you didn't do anything to migrate the question on that basis. Show me something that research could have found. – Andrew Leach Jan 12 '17 at 20:21

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