1. She loves being looked at.
  2. She loves looking at her.

Is there any significant difference between sentences 1 and 2? or Do they sound similar?

  • 1
    They mean completely different things. What is it you are trying to express? – choster Oct 21 '14 at 5:10
  • Does first sentence mean 'she loves when someone looks at her' – Dinusha Oct 21 '14 at 5:24
  • Yes, that is what it means. The second one doesn't make any sense, unless you add an object - 'She likes looking at her flowers'. – Damien H Oct 21 '14 at 5:50
  • @DamienH It makes sense if she and her refer to different people. Suzanne hates talking to Roberta, but she loves looking at her. – choster Oct 21 '14 at 6:15
  • @DamienH: The second one makes perfect sense in context. Mary adores her daughter; she loves looking at her. – oerkelens Oct 21 '14 at 6:16

Let's clear up some confusion, and give our "she" a name. Let's call her Alice.

Alice loves being looked at.

This means that Alice loves it when Bob looks at Alice.

Alice loves looking at her.

Here, "her" is a different person, let's call her Mary:

Alice loves looking at Mary.

So Alice loves it when Alice looks at Mary.

The main difference between the two sentence is that in the first one, Alice is the one that people look at. In the second sentence, Alice does the looking.

Now, it is of course possible that we want to say this:

Alice loves looking at Alice.

Now, simply referring to Alice with her is confusing, because it will be understood as I explained above. We need to put some emphasis on the fact that the second Alice is the same person as the first Alice.

Luckily, that is easy: we just add self:

Alice loves looking at herself.

And indeed, this works even if we drop the name completely:

She loves looking at herself.

  • "Alice loves looking at her" Here,Can't "her" be Alice?.like, "Alice loves looking at Alice (by someone)" – Dinusha Oct 21 '14 at 6:59
  • @Dinusha: no, her will always be read as "Mary". Herself will refer to Alice, I added that case to my answer :) – oerkelens Oct 21 '14 at 7:39
  • For the OP's benefit: the various forms of the reflexive pronouns are: Myself. Yourself. Yourselves. Herself. Himself. Itself. Themselves. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 21 '14 at 13:31

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