Why does a man use 'yourself' but not 'you'?

I take an interest in people like yourself. Creative people.

from Pawn Sacrifice film about Bobby Fischer

  • both are acceptable, yourself is more colloquial, I guess Mar 4, 2019 at 17:28
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    @Andrew Tobilko: It's nothing to do with "colloquial" - it's just a [sometimes possible] way of adding "emphasis", as per the answer below. But idiomatically it's not always "acceptable" - Google Books has over 700 instances of I hate people like you, but not a single one of I hate people like yourself. Whereas there are 165 hits for I admire people like yourself (against 456 hits for the non-reflexive form). Mar 4, 2019 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


yourself (pronoun): 2. You personally (used to emphasize the person being addressed)

There is little difference in meaning between "you" and "yourself" in this context. "Yourself" has slightly more emphasis, and suggests the speaker takes a special interest in the person being addressed.

Some additional information on when to use "myself" and "yourself"

Side note: Referring to individuals as "a man" is an odd phrasing. Instead you would say, as a hypothetical:

Why would someone say ..?

or referencing an actual quote:

Why does this person say ..?

Or refer to them by name/title:

Why does the author say ..?

Which is not to say that "a man" is wrong. It just means, specifically, "a personal of the male gender" rather than "some unspecified person". As such, it's more likely to be used in a hypothetical:

Why would a man suddenly quit his job, sell his house, and move to Tahiti to paint native women?

If you are talking about an actual quote or incident, use something like "that man" instead:

Why did that man say that he was going to quit his job, sell his house, and move to Tahiti to paint native women?

  • 1
    I was interested to discover that apparently every single one of the 700+ hits in Google Books for I admire people like yourself (as per my comment under the actual question) turns out to be followed by a who- clause (as do nearly half of all the hits for the "non-reflexive" version). So we could say that one big reason for using the reflexive form is when it represents the subject of a following clause. Mar 4, 2019 at 18:47

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