Did the children behave/behave themselves while we were out?

kuleshov

Senior Member
Spain Spanish
<<Did the children behave/behave themselves while we were out?>>

I'm just wondering which one native English speakers use more: behave or behave yourself, when behave means to be polite and not be rude or cause trouble.

Cheers

(Edited by JustKate so that the sentence under discussion is included in the opening post, not just in the thread title. :))
 
  • Sparky Malarky

    Moderator
    English - US
    Parents return home and ask babysitter:

    Did the children behave themselves while we were out?
    Did the children act nicely? Were they well mannered and polite?

    Did the children behave while we were out? Did the children behave you? Did they do what you told them to do?
     

    ewhite

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    id the children behave while we were out? Did the children behave you? Did they do what you told them to do?
    Behave isn't transitive. One doesn't behave another person.

    The difference between behave and behave yourself is that one can behave well or behave badly. If you are behaving yourself, you are behaving well.
     

    kuleshov

    Senior Member
    Spain Spanish
    But if you ask, "Did the children behave while we were out?", it's understood that we mean "well". Anyway, I can see that behave yourself always means well, whereas behave can be followed by badly, well, etc. I also like what you say, Sparky Malarky: using behave without the reflexive certainly broadens the meaning.
    Thank you guys!
     

    ewhite

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    No. I wouldn't say that. I don't think I've ever heard that. Behave is intransitive.
     
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