(Other than the first also meaning to learn about oneself...)

Is learning yourself the same as learning by yourself? How much do these two phrases differ?

In India's spoken English, the former is used a lot. Is it grammatically correct at all?

  • 3
    Can you give a sentence (or more) of each so we can see what you mean?
    – Mitch
    Mar 7, 2012 at 13:54
  • I may be mistaken, but I think in "Indian English" it's possible to say "I am learning myself English". Or indeed, to say "I am learning myself" without specifying any particular subject. Neither of these constructions are valid in "standard" English, of course - the correct verb is teach. Mar 7, 2012 at 19:43
  • As a speaker of Indian English, I would consider "I am learning myself English" to be incorrect.
    – Aru Ray
    Mar 8, 2012 at 4:02
  • arun, its "I am learning english myself" in popular indian english usage...
    – Thale
    Mar 8, 2012 at 8:09

2 Answers 2


Yes, myself (or any other intensive pronoun) can be used after the verb (e.g. He learned it himself) with a meaning slightly differing from that of using it directly after the pronoun (e.g. He himself learned it). The extra himself in the latter emphasizes that it was indeed he, and no other, who learned it; whereas in the former (pertaining to your question), it emphasizes that he learned it by himself, without significant help.

Intensive pronouns work as well with other verb tenses (such as present tense), but when there is no other direct object (e.g. it in learning it yourself), the intensive pronoun (yourself) becomes ambiguous. Therefore Learning yourself is good is at best an ambiguous sentence because yourself here can easily be interpreted as a stand-alone noun, resulting in a meaning of Learning about yourself is good.

Learning yourself doesn't go against grammar, but it is pitifully ambiguous, and I would advise against it. If you put an intensive pronoun after the verb, make sure there is a clear direct object or modifier, or else the pronoun itself will likely be viewed as the direct object.

  • But what about the present / present-continuous tense versions? I certainly realize there is a big disadvantage in making statements like this: "Learning yourself is good" (about the former one)
    – Thale
    Mar 7, 2012 at 13:38
  • The tense doesn't matter as much as whether there is a clear direct object or modifying adverb, etc. So Learning yourself is ambiguous, but not Learning something yourself, Learning yourself that a certain event occurred, et cetera. If you don't have a modifier, learning by yourself is the best way to go.
    – Daniel
    Mar 7, 2012 at 16:24

According to Wiktionary, the verb learn has two meanings. The root of the archaic one is from the Old English læran which means

To teach.

The second and most common meaning come from the Old English leornian which means:

To acquire, or attempt to acquire knowledge or an ability to do something.

Based on that, using to learn yourself would be relatively acceptable when the acquisition of knowledge is achieved by mere reasoning or unprecedented try-and-fail experiences. To learn by yourself encompasses acquiring knowledge through everything but a teacher.

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