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I am currently doing homework for a linguistics course I am taking.

The question is about creating a rule to make confirm if certain sentences are grammatical or ungrammatical.

Here are some examples, with those with a star in front signifying that the sentence is ungrammatical.

Set 1:

a. I saw myself in the mirror.

b. * Myself saw me in the mirror.

c. I showed the monkey himself in the mirror.

d. * I showed himself the monkey in the mirror.

Set 2:

a. Carla read a book about herself.

b. * A book about Carla upset herself.

c. John’s teachers respect themselves.

d. * John’s teachers respect himself.

Set 3:

a. I know that Mary likes herself.

b. * I know that Mary likes myself.

For this homework, I need to create a rule to make all those sentences with no * grammatical, and all the sentences with * ungrammatical. This rule has to apply for all 3 sets of sentences.

Currently, the rule I have come up with is: A reflexive pronoun can only be used to an entity that has already been mentioned.

However, this rule only can be applied to sets 1 and 2.

Does anyone have any idea on a rule that can be applied to all 3 sets?

closed as off-topic by TrevorD, Jason Bassford, John Lawler, jimm101, Skooba Mar 4 at 13:45

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    We don't do homework here and I am sure you can find the rule on the internet and not use us to come up with it for you. You just need to concentrate on the first sentence in each set. – Lambie Feb 28 at 14:51
  • I don't want to do your homework for you, and as phrased I see no way to answer the question without also doing that. That said, as a hint, do you see any patterns between sentence parts and the reflexive pronoun? – TaliesinMerlin Feb 28 at 14:52
  • Your rule does not correctly account for the ungrammaticality of set 2b or 2d. – Greg Lee Feb 28 at 15:13
  • Think about what "reflexive" means. – remarkl Feb 28 at 16:12
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    @Lambie, Taliesinmerlin, TrevorD There is absolutely no rule of SE that we can't or don't wish to help people with homework.The criteria is, is the question of interest to linguists and serious language enthusiasts. This has been done to death on Meta. Be nice to the new contributor who has a decent and interesting question! Btw, Lambie,you can't traighforwardly find the rule for this in the web. It isn't a simple rule. – Araucaria Mar 1 at 10:28