I want to say something such as these quotes:

"We must acknowledge our weakness, so we could understand the cause and easier to rule our self"

Its mean that we must acknowledge our weakness, so we could understand the root cause of the weakness so it will be easier for us to improve it.

My question: is the above quote right in terms of grammar, particularly in regards to "our self" or "ourself"?


Neither "ourself" nor "our self", but ourselves.

Our is the possessive, which comes from the pronoun we. It's a rule that the plural of some words ending in f or which have f as penult will be changed to ves. It also happens to words such as knife -> knives and wife -> wives.

Note: I also edited your question and rewrote your example by following some grammar rules of verbal times.

We must acknowledge our weakness, so that we can understand the cause and more easily rule ourselves.

If you want to know more about the mistakes I have fixed, take a look at these topics, which are related to the mistakes you made:

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  • i read both of link you provide, but seriously my english is not really good, i understand that i need to use ourselves but still why i need to remove 'to' ? – Tengku Fathullah Jan 5 '17 at 14:54
  • is it wrong to put to rule? then what is the different between to rule and to eat. – Tengku Fathullah Jan 5 '17 at 14:55
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    ...or, alternatively, "we can make it easier to rule ourselves." David, you were correct that the original was ungrammatical, but, unfortunately, your edit was also ungrammatical. – J.R. Jan 5 '17 at 15:51
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    Is it possible to make sentence more shorter but the meaning is still same ? like We must acknowledge our weakness, to understand the cause and rule ourselves, something like that. – Tengku Fathullah Jan 5 '17 at 16:17
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    @Tengku We must acknowledge our weakness, in order to understand the cause and more easily rule ourselves. There you are. in order to = so that but when it is used, no nouns must be proceeded after to. See the diferences: We must acknowledge our weakness, 'so that' 'we' can understand the cause and more easily rule ourselves - We must acknowledge our weakness, 'in order to understand' the cause and more easily rule ourselves. If you want to understand more about in order to x so that: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/134/…. – Davyd Jan 5 '17 at 16:24

On the "proofreading" front, note that you'd need something like ...so we can understand the cause, making it easier to... (OP's text as presented is simply ungrammatical at the highlighted points).

Regarding the choice between to rule ourselves and to rule our self, there's a certain amount of "wiggle room". But the situation is complicated by the fact that there are two significantly different semantic nuances that don't correspond to the simplistic "grammatical / logical" distinctions.

Ordinarily, We must rule ourselves (single-word reflexive form) will be understood as meaning that we (not someone else) must be in charge of our affairs. But consider...

We must not let our head rule our heart.

There will always be pedants who insist that should be heads and hearts (which is admittedly more common), but as I have pointed out on ELU, I'm not one of them. So from my point of view...

In order to truly exercise self-control, we must learn to rule our self

...is a perfectly valid construction. And it has the advantage of putting plenty of syntactic distance between the two different possible meanings:

1: to rule oneself rather than being ruled by others
2: to rule one's self = id = ego as opposed to controlling, say, one's appetite, or children.

TL;DR: It depends what meaning you intend, but if you want #2 above there are strong arguments for using the singular form in this exact context, because even if you explicitly write it as two words, the reader is likely to be misled into assuming sense #1.

Note that this isn't so much of a problem in speech, where you stress self/selves for sense #2.

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  • Most important point that i try to brings up is 1. Acknowledge our weakness, so we able to figure out the root cause problem 2.Understand the cause , in order to make a change 3.rule ourselves. – Tengku Fathullah Jan 5 '17 at 16:41
  • what if i said "In order to rule ourselves, we must know the cause by acknowledge our weakness". – Tengku Fathullah Jan 5 '17 at 16:44
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    @Tengku: If you intend the first meaning (i.e. - you're not thinking in terms of each of us having an internal "super-ego" that must be controlled), there's no scope for using either of the two-word forms - you can only use the single-word reflexive pronoun form ourselves. Although I have defended it above, the two-word singular form our self would be unusual / non-standard in any context, and it certainly doesn't apply to the meaning you're trying to express here. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 5 '17 at 18:42
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    @Tengku I think the difference FumbleFingers is pointing out is whether you want to say that 1) all of us together need to acknowledge the weaknesses in us as a group so that we can rule ourselves as a group, or instead 2) each of us individually needs to acknowledge our (separate, individual) faults so we can each rule our (own individual) self. – 1006a Jan 5 '17 at 18:43
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    @1006a: That's pretty much it. Specifically, the difference is that both the two-word forms explicitly reference some kind of "internal self" (per the homunculus argument) that needs to be controlled, whereas the single-word reflexive pronoun version carries no such implication. That's to say Control yourself! is both syntactically and semantically similar to Behave yourself!, but whereas you could feasibly say Control your self! in certain contexts, it simply makes no sense to say Behave your self! in any context. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jan 5 '17 at 18:58

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