Confused about Reflexive Prounouns


I write in informal American English because that's what my clients usually require. However, I still have issues. I want to remember the more formal ways of writing like I used to follow in school a long time ago. 


For instance, I wonder this: Why do I always receive a message that I may be using reflexive pronouns incorrectly?


For example, I wrote this sentence:


What better way to start a relationship than carefully asserting yourself?

My question about the above sentence:


Why is it wrong? Is it because I didn't add the word "you" before the verb "asserting"? Is it because this may not be a complete sentence? On the other hand, if it's for casual writing, wouldn't it be acceptable? Still, I need to know what is more proper if I were to ever take on projects that demand higher quality. 


Another question:


How would I word the above sentence so use of the reflexive pronound "yourself" is correct?


Reason for my confusion:


I continually hear "you need to take care of yourself" or "take care of yourself", so to me it seems correct. However, now that I write this, I wonder if my example sentences really is incomplete. (I sometimes intentionally break this rule--not having complete sentences--but I may not want to all the time.) 


I did think of one possibility:


"You need to assert yourself." Would that be correct use of a reflexive pronoun? 

2 answers


There is no problem with "yourself" in the sentence.  You simply have to add by,  as in 

What better way to start a relationship than by carefully asserting yourself?  

"You need to assert yourself" is fine.

link comment answered Jul 01 '13 at 10:38 Michael Cranfield Expert

I agree with my colleagues'responses, but I want to add: as often happens, the context is incomplete here. I am sure that the big picture in which this sentence was used makes it obvious that you are addressing someone in the second person, singular. There's nothing wrong with your sentence, therefore.

link comment answered Jul 02 '13 at 01:24 Ahmad Barnard Expert

Your answer

Write at least 20 characters

Have a question about English grammar, style or vocabulary use? Ask now to get help from Grammarly experts for FREE.