In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) movie, Tom says to Harry Potter about Hedwig, an owl:

Tom: Right smart bird you got there, Mr. Potter. He arrived here just five minutes before yourself.

Why "yourself" instead of "you"?

Source: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

  • It could be replaced with "you", but would possibly be better (thought of as being) replaced with "your good self" as this would more easily lead the reader to see it as intentionally respectful
    – Caius Jard
    Apr 19 '21 at 11:07

It is rather subtle, but using "yourself" like this is a marker of social status. The word "yourself" can be used to mean "you" in a in an honorific way. So it marks Tom as being low status compared to Harry.

Cambridge gives an example

The National Trust is a charity depending on the support of people like yourself. (or … people like you.)

Note also Tom's dialect use of "right" in this sentence, and his addressing of a boy as "Mr Potter". The author is using these clues to let us judge the type of person that Tom is.

  • 4
    Many people find a related usage ('myself' instead of 'me') to be deeply annoying. Apr 16 '21 at 9:23
  • 5
    Absolutely. I bet that on average, the construction people like yourself are [adjectival description] is far more likely to feature a favourable description than people like you are... Where I'd also expect "favourable" assessments to use such as more often than like, but that's not the issue here. Apr 16 '21 at 15:50
  • I took it as dialect. In RP it would sound odd and not a polite form. The National Trust example is different. Apr 16 '21 at 21:33
  • @FrancisDavey: It's not formal language / usage if that's what you mean, but it is how that character speaks when choosing to be polite / respectful. (Tom, landlord of the Leaky Cauldron, according to some quick googling.). Apr 17 '21 at 3:09
  • I had quick check of the video of the scene in question and Tom is speaking in a dialect in which "yourself" would be used that way more than in standard British English. I'm just flagging that up because a learner might not realise that what they are reading is meant to sound that way. Apr 17 '21 at 6:34

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