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The title is a lyric from Caught in the Middle by Paramore.

I know lyrics can break grammatical rules, but I want to know the correct way of using reflexive/intensive pronoun. So, should it be

I can sabotage myself by me.

or

I can sabotage myself by myself.

I'd like to add too my own examples

She's so crazy that she writes letters to give to the mailman, which will be delivered back to her/self.

She looks at mirror and brakes it after seeing herself looking at her/self.

Unrelated additional question but please answer: What's the difference in meaning if I don't put an article (definite or indefinite) between "at" and "mirror"? Is mirror a countable noun?

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It is just: I can sabotage myself or I sabotaged myself. No need for: by me. The verbs are: to sabotage [something] or to sabotage oneself.

  • deliver back to her. To deliver something (back) to someone. It is not reflexive.

Re looking at oneself in a mirror: One looks at oneself in a or the mirror. So, for example, she breaks the mirror after looking at herself in it.

Please note:

She likes to look at herself in mirrors or in the mirror.

Both can be general ideas about what she likes.

She looked at herself in a mirror on the first floor. [There was a mirror there and she looked at herself in it.]

versus: She looked at herself in the mirror on the first floor. [This can imply there were mirrors on other floors].

  • So, it'll be: She's so crazy that she writes letter for herself to give to the mailman, which will be delivered back to her. (Because the letters do the action and she's the direct object, right?) She looks at a mirror and brakes it after seeing herself looking at her. (She sees her own reflection looking at her, so not herself looking at herself, right?) – Xyenz Oct 1 '17 at 1:13
  • More idiomatically: She's so crazy that she writes herself a letter to give to the mailman, which will be delivered back to her. – chasly from UK Nov 5 '18 at 15:54
  • She looks into the mirror and breaks it (not brakes it) after seeing herself. – Lambie Sep 7 at 16:45
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In most cases, the sentence would likely be, "I can sabotage myself," but in the context of the song, the sentence might be:

I can sabotage myself by myself.

"I can sabotage myself" means that the speaker is capable of self-sabotage. The addition of "by myself" is redundant, but emphasizes that the speaker does not need any help in the activity.

Less redundant ways to say the same thing would be:

I can sabotage myself on my own.

I can sabotage myself without any help.

etc.


Your other sentences might be

She's so crazy that she writes letters to give to the mailman that will be delivered back to her.

She looks at the mirror and breaks it after seeing herself looking back at her.

The first sentence should not have "herself", because the action of delivering the letters now originates elsewhere.

The second sentence sounds more idiomatic with "looking back at her", because it portrays the reflection as another entity.

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