This question came to my mind when I used the phrasal verb "rely on"


Could I possibly rely myself on you?

I'm not interested in focusing whether the sentence sounds usual or not, but I need to clarify whether I could do this and the same on some certain phrasal verbs, to emphasize something that is done by the subject.

Quoted from OALD, I'm aware of the placement somebody/something is after the phrasal verb "rely on" i.e [rely on/upon + somebody/something]. Back to my question, if that's not possible, must I write like this instead? :

Could I myself possibly rely on you?

2 Answers 2


No, you can't separate a phrasal verb with a reflexive pronoun used for emphasis. Some phrasal verbs are not separable at all. Generally, those which are separable are separable because you can put the direct object (or very occasionally an adverb) between the parts of the verb. Placing a reflexive pronoun there would indicate that you are the object of the verb rather than emphasizing your role as the subject. In your specific example, it can't be done at all--rely on is not separable by a direct object.

  • Thank you, what about the second highlighted sentence?
    – user516076
    Jan 25 at 4:13
  • 1
    @user516076 Yes, that's how you'd write it.
    – Katy
    Jan 25 at 4:15

The verb to rely is very rarely used reflexively. The sequence he relied himself [on something providing support] finds barely a dozen instances of those highlighted words in the entire Google Books corpus - and almost all of the matches seem to be either well over a century old, or from non-native Anglophones anyway.

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