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She finds things she should study for herself.

While I was writing the above sentence, I thought the meaning of the sentence was ambiguous.

I want to write "She finds for herself what she should study" not "study for herself"

I mean 'she finds them for herself..' However, I think the first sentence could mean 'She finds them, which she should study for herself', and this is not what I mean.

How should I write the sentence correctly?

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It is perfectly grammatical to say and write:

She finds for herself what she should study.

but many native speakers would not say it that way and would be content to place for herself or herself at the end of the sentence, trusting to their intonation to indicate that for herself or herself reflexively modifies finds.

She finds what she should study, herself.

Another way to say and write it would be:

What she should study she finds for herself.

If your meaning is that she pursues her own interests or follows her own desire, then should might not be the best word, and you might want to replace finds with decides:

She decides for herself what to study.

What to study she decides for herself.

You can keep should if you want to stress the idea that she herself is the judge of what would be prudent for her to study:

What she should study she decides for herself.

She decides for herself what she should study.

Modal should conveys the idea that something would be prudent or advisable.

  • Thank you very much. If I write 'She decides what she should study for herself', does it mean the same thing or the sentence becomes ambiguous because 'for herself' seems to be connected to 'study' and looks like 'study for herself'? – James Dec 19 '17 at 15:15
  • Your explanation is very good, but I am asking this question because you said many native speakers would place 'for herself' at the end of the sentence. Of course you advised me to write "What to study she decides for herself." and it is perfect. However, as an English learner, I would like to know how does 'She decides what she should study for herself' look to native speakers. Is it ambiguous? – James Dec 19 '17 at 15:15
  • I said that many native speakers would place for herself at the end of the sentence and rely upon intonation to make clear how the listener should interpret the phrase. Without such intonation, or without some typographic indication in a written text, it is ambiguous, since for herself could mean "for self-improvement*. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 19 '17 at 15:27
  • If you want to make perfectly clear that "she is deciding for herself" then that phrase should remain contiguous, not be split up. The collocation is "to decide for oneself". – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 19 '17 at 15:31
  • Thank you for answering my question. Your explanation is very clear. I learned a lot of things today. – James Dec 19 '17 at 15:35

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