A mermaid wants to turn into a human so that she can have a date with a man. So, she asks a sea witch to turn her fish tail into human legs.

If that happens, she can not be in the previous state.

Is it correct to say "The mermaid can not undo herself once she turns into a human" or "The mermaid can not reverse herself once she turns into a human"?

  • 1
    No. Neither sentence discusses her transformation -- how does one reverse oneself, anyways? Nov 9 '21 at 15:11
  • 5
    She can't change herself back into a mermaid. Nov 9 '21 at 15:12
  • 1
    The maid is unmade, mer no more. Nov 9 '21 at 15:26
  • "The mermaid cannot return (herself) to her previous form once she turns into a human." (note that "cannot" is one word, not two)
    – gotube
    Nov 9 '21 at 22:02

For the sake of precision we must remember that the sea-witch transformed the mermaid. The mermaid desired to be transformed but the mermaid did not transform herself. The mermaid has not only transformed (i.e. changed shape) but she has been transformed (i.e. had her shape changed by something else).

If you are speaking in context and we as your listeners know about the sea-witch's involvement, there is no reason to indicate that in your sentence. Without context, however, you can let us know that the transformation was performed by something other than the mermaid, just use been in your sentence.

The mermaid cannot undo her transformation once she has been turned/transformed into a human

is how I would say it.

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