Annie wanted to have Helen all to herself so that she could do anything with her.

Note: In this context, Annie (full name, Annie Sullivan) is the teacher of Helen (full name, Helen Keller).

What is the meaning of "to have Helen all to herself", and is the clause "she could do anything with her" correctly used in the sentence? The sentence above is the answer to the question " Why did Annie want to have Helen all to herself?" The question was created from the passage " The next day, I told Helen's father, " I can't do anything with Helen unless I have her all to myself. I want her to depend on me for her food, her clothes,everything. ....."

  • 2
    This question should at the very least tell us where this sentence came from. A bit more surrounding context would be good, too. Please, we want more details. (And if you do add details, please do so by editing the question, not by adding comments down here.)
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 10:14
  • related (duplicate?): ell.stackexchange.com/questions/75612/…
    – mkennedy
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


You use the phrase "have someone all to oneself" when you want to say that you don't want anybody else to share or enjoy the time you pass with someone; you want to be all (completely) alone with them.

I think the OP wants to say "Annie wanted the company of Helen all on her own so that she could enjoy her company however she wanted".

By itself, I don't think the clause "so that she could do anything with her" sounds appropriate. It conveys a nefarious sense. Doing anything could mean to abuse her, for example. In this case, though, the story is well-known, and everyone understands that Ms. Sullivan's intentions are good.

  • I would say "whenever she wanted". Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 10:20
  • @Khan - I agree that the sentence sounded sinister – until the O.P. added the context! I can see the intent of the sentence a bit more clearly now.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 11:43
  • J.R. You are right. I also got it. I don't think my answer is right in light of the context. Please advise whether I should edit or withdraw my answer.
    – Khan
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 11:54
  • @Khan - Your answer is not wrong. I would edit the third paragraph in light of the new information.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 20:40
  • @J.R. Please do so.
    – Khan
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 1:28

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