Ourself Vs Ourselves: What’s the Difference?
Language can be confusing at times, especially when it comes to pronouns. One such example is the use of “ourself” versus “ourselves.” You may have seen these words used interchangeably, but is it correct? Let’s explore the difference between “ourself” and “ourselves.”
What is “Ourself”?
“Ourself” is a reflexive pronoun, which means it refers back to the subject of the sentence. It is an old-fashioned and non-standard form of “ourselves.” “Ourself” was widely used in Middle English, but it gradually became obsolete in Modern English. The use of “ourself” is now considered non-standard and archaic.
Here are a few examples of “ourself” being used in sentences:
– We must look after ourself in these trying times.
– I can handle the situation by ourself.
– We need to focus on how we can improve ourself.
As you can see, “ourself” is used to refer to one person or multiple people as a singular entity.
What is “Ourselves”?
“Oneself” is the correct and standard reflexive pronoun that is used to refer to one person or multiple people as individuals. We use “ourselves” when we want to refer back to the subject and emphasize the plurality of the subject.
Here are a few examples of “ourselves” being used in sentences:
– We need to educate ourselves about climate change.
– Let’s work together to improve ourselves.
– We need to take care of ourselves in order to be healthy.
As you can see, “ourselves” is used to refer to multiple people or one person as individuals.
Why is “Ourself” Considered Non-Standard and Archaic?
The use of “ourself” instead of “ourselves” is considered non-standard and archaic because it has fallen out of common use in Modern English. It was widely used in Middle English, but over time, the use of “ourself” declined. In Modern English, “ourselves” is now the standard reflexive pronoun used to refer back to the subject.
In addition, using “ourself” instead of “ourselves” can create confusion and misunderstanding. It may make it difficult for the reader to understand the intended meaning of the sentence.
Q. Can I use “ourself” instead of “ourselves” in my writing?
A. No, you should use “ourselves” instead. “Ourself” is considered non-standard and archaic in Modern English.
Q. What if I want to refer to one person as a singular entity?
A. You can use “oneself” or “myself” to refer back to the subject when speaking about yourself. For example, “I must take care of myself” or “One must look after oneself.”
Q. Why do people still use “ourself”?
A. People may use “ourself” out of habit or because they are not aware that it is now considered non-standard and archaic.