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Which one is correct?

He engraved photos of himself and his wife on the coins.

Or

He engraved photos of him and his wife on the coins.

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Either is ok, and you would certainly hear both versions in conversation.

Reflexive pronouns like 'himself' are required when the subject and the object are the same person. But that is not the case here.

So, you would have to say:

He marked himself and his wife with an indelible pen.

As @aml mentioned in a comment, my first answer was in fact incorrect. Which just goes to show that a lot of native speakers don't know the rules!

Reflexive pronouns need to be used with objects and indirect objects, and circumstances such as this when "himself and his wife" are objects of a preposition, while 'he' is still subject of the sentence.

It is quite common for people to use the reflexive pronoun, either because they are not sure which pronoun to use ('he' or 'him, and especially 'I' and 'me', which many native speakers struggle with*), or to avoid repeating the pronoun, or to place emphasis on the pronoun.

*Including me apparently.

  • No -- photos is the direct object, but reflexive pronouns should be used for any object (direct, indirect, or object of preposition) that is in the same phrase (not a subordinate, where the subject would change). – amI Mar 15 at 8:47
  • I deleted this answer because I thought it had a mistake in it. I have now hopefully corrected the mistake and restored the answer. – fred2 Mar 22 at 1:08
  • Quibble: An indirect object is the [intended] recipient of an action, marked by the preposition 'to' or 'for' (or the preposition may be omitted if the indirect object is stated before the direct object). 'Of' does not qualify for making an indirect object, so 'himself and his wife' are merely objects of a preposition (in the OP). I'll upvote if you correct this. (Reflexives are appropriate until the case changes back to subject.) – amI Mar 22 at 16:32
  • @aml - assuming you can't edit my post directly, if you want to provide an exact form of words to correct the error, I will happily add it. – fred2 Mar 22 at 16:44
  • Sorry - I want you to understand: "He" is a subject, and "himself and his wife" are objects of a preposition in the OP (and direct objects in your sentence with "pen") -- there are no indirect objects in any of the examples. – amI Mar 22 at 16:53

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