"The fish has poison in it / itself."

1

"I love myself." I have learned that when a subject is the same as an object, we have to use reflexive pronouns. And then how about this sentence?

 

1) "The fish has poison in it."

 

2) "The fish has poison in itself."

 

Which one is correct to you?

 

Thank you so much as usual and have a good and safe day.

asked Jan 26 '13 at 08:28 Hans Contributor

1 answer


2

Hello again,

 

Thanks for another interesting question.  Your first sentence is unnatural, and your second sentence is grammatically incorrect.

 

Reflexive pronouns can't be the object of the verb have when have means possession.  In your sentences, poison is the object of has.  In your second sentence, itself is the object of the preposition in, and it does not make sense here.  (in itself is a shorter variation of the phrase in and of itself, meaning "considered or evaluated alone; intrinsically" -- this set phrase is probably the only context in which in itself is ever used, and it does not fit into this story about poisoned fish.)

 

The first sentence is grammatical but not natural.  If you want to emphasize what happened to the fish, use a passive verb.  The fish has been poisoned if it is only one fish, or The fish have been poisoned if more than one.  Alternatively, The fish was poisoned for only one fish or The fish were poisoned for more than one.

 

But if you want to focus on what could happen to human beings (or other fish-eating animals, I suppose) if they eat the poisoned fish, use the adjective poisonous instead.  The fish is poisonous for one fish, or The fish are poisonous for more than one. Also, ...is/are unsafe for human consumption is another possibility.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Shawn

link comment answered Jan 26 '13 at 09:31 Shawn Mooney Expert

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