the use of reflexive pronouns

Discussion in 'English Only' started by cielbleu92, Jun 21, 2013.

  1. cielbleu92 Member

    I have a question related to reflexive pronouns. As far as I know, in case a subject is the same as the object, the object should be in a reflexive form. However, I ran across the following sentence in which the rule I know doesn't seem to be applied.

    At the University of Cracow he mastered mathematics and the scientific study of light; he then move to the University of Bologna to study the laws of the Christian Church, to prepare him for the career in the Church he was expected to pursue in his uncle's footsteps.

    In the above sentence, shouldn't "to prepare him for the career" be "to prepare himself for the career"?
    Please someone help me figure this out. Thank you.
  2. Embonpoint Senior Member

    In your sentence, I would say himself. The reason is that the sentence shows him doing the actions. He is planning all this for himself. He wants to prepare himself. He then moved to the University of Bologna, to prepare himself for a career in the church.

    If the sentence was about other people commanding him, I would say prepare him. For example, say his uncle was running things. His uncle wanted his nephew to go to the University of Bologna. His uncle then moved him to the University of Bologna to prepare him for a career in the Church.
  3. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    Non-reflexive 'him' can be justified by thinking of something like the study as its implicit subject - the study was to prepare him for his career. To me both possibilities sound about equally good. With a similar verb, 'fit', only 'him' is possible: to fit him for the career. Here we can't say he fitted himself for it, only that the study fitted him for it. 'Prepare' can be thought of in both ways.
  4. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I completely agree; it should definitely be "to prepare himself", since he is both the preparer and the one to be prepared.
  5. cielbleu92 Member

    Thank you all. I now understood the reflexive pronouns better.

    Also, thank you very much, entangledbank. I didn't think of the verb 'fit' nor the possibility of implicit subjects being used in such sentences.

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