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There are several different types of buses with their own dedicated lanes like a network in the city.

VS

There are several different types of buses with themselves dedicated lanes like a network in the city.

3 Answers 3

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tl;dr The first sentence is much easier to understand, at least without context.


There are several different types of buses with their own dedicated lanes like a network in the city.

What "their own" does is emphasize that each bus has its own group of lanes, not shared with any of the other buses.

If "their own" were not there, it could become unclear if the lanes were dedicated to the buses as a group (the entire group of 5 buses gets 30 lanes), or to each individual bus (each bus gets 30 lanes, or 150 lanes in total).


There are several different types of buses with themselves dedicated lanes like a network in the city.

It's hard to imagine a case where "themselves" would work here, since "themselves" is a reflexive pronoun.

But here's a very contrived context where it could work:

Public transportation on the island is broken down into two types of transportation: buses and boats, each with their own dedicated set of lanes [the buses have a separate set of lanes from the boats].

There are several different types of buses with themselves dedicated lanes [each type of bus has its own set of lanes] like a network in the city.

What's happening here is that we're emphasizing layers of ideas. The buses are separate from the boats; and within the buses, bus A is separate from bus B.

I'd still much prefer the first one, though. I'd only use the second to avoid the repetition of "their own."


You mentioned in a comment an example in medicine:

Patients should be able to refer themselves to a specialist in such circumstances.

Here, "themselves" is being used as a reflexive pronoun together with a reflexive verb. The statement is that the patient is referring someone to a specialist, and that the "someone" is the patient.

It's not the same as in the bus example, where it only serves as emphasis. Here, it would be grammatically wrong to use "them"; instead, use "themselves," since the subject is the same as the object.

When in doubt, imagine replacing the subject and object with people:

Adam referred himself to a specialist.

Adam referred Adam to a specialist.

The first one sounds much less weird than the second, right?

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their own

: refers to something owned by (them) Example: They paid with their own money...the money belong to them. They are the owner of the money. You are the owner of the house if you own it; that is, it belongs to you.

with themselves dedicated

That's not English...

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  • Thanks for the response. Here is an example of themselves in English: used as the object of a verb or preposition to refer to a group of people or things previously mentioned as the subject of the clause: "Patients should be able to refer themselves to a specialist in such circumstances." Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 11:47
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    I didn't mean to say that themselves is not English. I meant to say that the context in which it is used is not English. You may say: They themselves told me that. This is English... and the word themselves is an object of the verb told. Hope I'm clear. Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 11:54
  • That's right. I got it. Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 11:56
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    You should add that to the answer. It's a huge improvement over the rather dismissive "That's not English."
    – Bladewood
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 20:11
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The correct phrase seems to be: There are several different types of buses by their own dedicated lanes like a network in the city.

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  • Thanks for the response, but my main question is the difference between their own and themselves Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 11:55
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    Uh, no, "There are several different types of buses by their own dedicated lanes like a network in the city" is not standard English.
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 19:56

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