The sentence is:

The fact was, however, that she was always dreaming and thinking odd things and could not herself remember any time when she had not been thinking things about grown-up people and the world they belonged to. —from A Little Princess.

Why the sentence is written as "could not herself remember any time..." instead of "could not remember herself any time ...". The position of word "herself" is moved up? Why? For better expression?

  • 2
    They mean totally different things. Could not herself remember means that she couldn't remember something. Could not remember herself means that should couldn't remember who she was. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 6:03
  • Ok. As you say, the first one means she coundn't remember "any time" instead of "herself". How about omitting "herself"? Is the meaning different?
    – Lily JIANG
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 6:08
  • 1
    As the answer by @Barid Baran Acharya indicates, the reflexive pronoun here is being used 'emphatically'. For example, to contrast what she remembers about her musings with what her parents remember about them. ThoughtCo has a good article on what it calls intensive reflexive pronouns: thoughtco.com/what-is-an-intensive-pronoun-1691177
    – Shoe
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 6:55
  • Yes, omitting herself from the original would mean the same thing—but swapping its position, as you asked about, would not. Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 13:46

1 Answer 1


It appears, without proper context, the girl was dreaming and dreaming, she was lost in her dreams. Her dreams were peopled by the grown-ups and filled with their odd doings all along. It is impossible for her to remember a moment when she dreamt something else than these. HERSELF is here for emphasis and is placed at its normal position as an emphatic pronoun. Dreaming as such has become an obsession with her.

You must log in to answer this question.