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At my son's school, the student union has put up posters with the heading "engage yourself as a student!". My son thinks this sounds like "Swenglish", and I can't help agreeing with him, but since neither of us are native speakers of English, we're not entirely sure. The dictionaries that we've consulted don't really give a conclusive answer, so, now I'm asking you instead:

Is "engage yourself as a student" (intended in the sense 'get involved as a student') idiomatic in English?

It's primarily the use of the reflexive pronoun we find a bit unidiomatic.

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The whole thing does not sound quite right to me for a number of reasons.

There is nothing wrong with using engage or even engage my/your/him/herself but with an imperative force it sound contrived. The final phrase as a student seems almost redundant. How else can students get involved except as students? Your gloss get involved as a student sounds much better.

If I were putting up a poster to try to get more students involved in (say) the student union I would head it Your union needs you! by analogy with a famous poster visible on the British Library site but that might not have the same resonance for your son's peers.

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  • Thank you! This is pretty much what we (my son and I) feel too. There was another answer here yesterday, but it seems to have disappeared – anyway, the person who wrote that thought "engage yourself" worked well, but the examples he gave felt a bit different, like they took on a slightly different sense, more along the lines of 'apply yourself'. Would you agree that there would be such a difference? So "(You should) engage yourself as a student" would more easily take on the meaning of '(you should) apply yourself'? Commented May 5, 2022 at 17:52
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    If the student union is trying to persuade them to study hard then your suggestion of apply yourself would fit well. In my day student unions did not tend to focus on the academic side but that was decades ago.
    – mdewey
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 12:41
  • Oh, ok – I see I didn't make myself clear :) What I meant was that I have a feeling that "engage oneself" has a meaning that is closer to 'apply oneself' than to 'get involved', so if you ask a student to engage themselves, the default interpretation would be that you're asking them to make an effort (probably with their studies), rather than that you're asking them to get involved in something (e.g., the student union). Am I right about this? (I hope my question is clearer now...) Commented May 7, 2022 at 14:33

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