Why do we say

Could you please put it on the rack above you?

In other words, why is there no reflexive needed here?

Can we also say "above yourself”, that is, use a reflexive pronoun?

  • 1
    Very good question. According to almost every Stack Exchange answer about reflexives on this site, this sentence should require a reflexive pronoun here. But of course it does not. Oct 14, 2018 at 15:05
  • Hi Tatiana, welcome to EL&U! I've edited your title and format a bit. (I changed the title because I thought you would get more readers and respondents that way). If you don't like that change `you can roll it back, just click on the edited bit above my name! Oct 14, 2018 at 15:27

2 Answers 2

  1. Could you take a picture of yourself?

  2. Could you put it on the rack above you?

These two sentences are imperatives. Imperatives usually do not take an expressed subject. Instead they have an unexpressed subject, you.

In example (1) above, we see that if a pronoun later in the sentence refers to the same person as the unexpressed you, then we need to use a reflexive pronoun.

Why then, we might ask, does the Original Poster not need a reflexive in their example, (2)?

The reason is that this rule does not apply if the pronoun occurs in a locative adjunct. A locative adjunct is just a phrase that gives us extra information about something, specifically by telling is about its position, direction or location.

We can see this contrast in the following two examples:

  1. She kept him by her.
  2. She went there by herself.

Here we see two preposition phrases with the preposition by. In the first sentence it is being used to give the location of the man, and therefore no reflexive is used. However, in the second sentence the word by does not have a locative meaning and so we have to use a reflexive.

In the Original Poster's example, the pronoun you occurs in the phrase above you, which tells us about the location of the rack. For this reason no reflexive pronoun is needed here either.

  • Thanks a lot for your explanation! I appreciate it!
    – Tatiana
    Oct 16, 2018 at 19:47

Not really, because "above you" describes the rack, and the rack and "you" are not the same, so a reflexive pronoun is not appropriate.

  • 1
    @Araucaria Good point.
    – Rosie F
    Oct 14, 2018 at 15:27
  • Strictly speaking, use "onto the rack."
    – Les Tivers
    Oct 15, 2018 at 9:36

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