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I always find myself in trouble when I am trying to underscore the fact that some thing, as opposed to some other earlier mentioned thing, is in just the same status or situation. Interestingly, I don’t find it hard to perform the same task on persons, that is, when talking about people, but I always feel that I am doing something wrong while talking about things.

For example, I feel that the following three sentences are more or less okay:

Don’t tell me that Jack will give me some valuable piece of advice – Jack himself is in urgent need of advice.

Henry won’t be a good English grammar teacher – he himself needs to learn grammar first.

I’ve heard that you’ve had problems with your health and that you need some help with your job. Well, I am sorry, but I won’t be able to help you this time as I myself have problems with health these days.

However, I feel that there is definitely some problem with wording in the following three ones:

Don’t tell me that Jack will give me some valuable piece of advice on how to fix my house. He is no expert in this field. His house itself is in cracks and crevices.

Henry won’t be a good English grammar teacher for my son. I’ve read Henry’s letters in English. His English grammar itself needs a lot of improvement.

I’ve heard that you’ve had problems with your health and that you need some help with your job. Well, I am sorry, but I won’t be able to help you this time as my health itself is in trouble these days.

Is there any general guidance on how to go about such cases?

I've looked through several resources, but haven't found any that would specifically address this issue.

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This: His house itself is in cracks and crevices.

Should be: His own house has cracks in it. [In other words, not my house, for example, if he had been criticizing my house].

And the others should be: my own health and his own grammar.

Itself would be used like this:

I told him that the house itself was in need of repairs, not just the garden shed.

You can't use a possessive adjective as in "his house" followed by itself.

The house itself etc. or He himself etc.

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  • Thank you for your answer. Very helpful. I am a little bit confused by “Itself would be used like this: I told him that the house itself was in need of repairs, not just the garden shed.” How is it different from, say, “I don’t think Henry will be of any help. Look at Henry’s own house. That house itself is in need of repairs.” Would this still be wrong? – brilliant Mar 3 at 2:40
  • That's fine because it is an intensifier that contrasts with something or someone else. "How do you know they were there?" Answer: "They themselves said so. "Look at Henry's house. The house itself is in need of repairs". [as opposed to something else in the discussion, a garage, a shed, a swimming pool] – Lambie Mar 3 at 15:10
  • "[as opposed to something else in the discussion, a garage, a shed, a swimming pool]" -- Sorry for pestering you, but is it fine in the context that I have provided (that is, not in the context of Henry's house being opposed to something minor like a garage, or a shed, or a swimming pool near his house, but in the context of Henry's house being opposed to my house, that is, something of the same rank)? – brilliant Mar 3 at 15:32
  • I repeat, if in the discussion, there is a contrast between two different people or things, but if you are ONLY talking about your house versus his [houses are the same item], you are better off using: His house does need repairs. [as opposed to MY house]. – Lambie Mar 3 at 15:36
  • Can you, please, tell me which word I should then stress in speech (that is, in saying orally "I don’t think Henry will be of any help. Look at Henry’s own house. His house does need repairs!")? Should I stress "his" or "does" in that sentence? – brilliant Mar 3 at 15:46

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