Hi!   When I was reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, I noticed this sentence interesting:

Laurie did not read all this while he watched her feed the peacocks, but he saw enough to satisfy and interest him, ... (Chapter 37)

 

I thought "him" should be replaced with "himself," and I was wondering whether the following sentences are grammatically okay and whether there could be any difference in meaning among (1) and (2), (3) and (4), and (5) and 6):

 

(1) He saw enough to satisfy and interest him.

(2) He saw enough to satisfy and interest himself.

(3) He saw enough of that to safisfy and interest him. (that=her feeding the peacocks)

(4) He saw enough of that to safisfy and interest himself. (that=her feeding the peacocks)

(5) He saw that to safisfy and interest him. (that=her feeding the peacocks)

(6) He saw that to safisfy and interest himself. (that=her feeding the peacocks)

 

Thank you so much!

Original Post

Hi, Yasukotta,

That's an interesting question. I'm in the process of reading a doctoral dissertation David kindly provided us with entitled "Understanding the Self: The Distribution of Anaphora within Prepositional Phrases," where I trust I will find more solid grounds to answer your enquiry.

In the meantime, my feeling is that the reflexive will only be used for emphasis or for strictly grammatical reasons rendering the use of the objective pronoun too vague or inadequate. Let's see your sentences (I'm open to other opinions, of course):

(1) He saw enough to satisfy and interest him. CORRECT, better than (2).

(2) He saw enough to satisfy and interest himself. UNNATURAL, the reflexive looking unnecessary.

(3) He saw enough of that to safisfy and interest him. CORRECT, better than (4).

(4) He saw enough of that to safisfy and interest himself. UNNATURAL, the reflexive looking unnecessary.

(5) He saw that to safisfy and interest him.

(6) He saw that to safisfy and interest himself.

In (5) and (6), the verb "saw" accompanied by the demonstrative "that" seems to be more deliberate, more intentional than in the previous sentences (where it sounds like an accidental perception). That being the case, and if I'm not wrong (which I probably am), in this case I find the reflexive more appropriate.

Hi, Gustavo,

 

Thank you so much!  That's so interesting to me.  Your explanation makes a lot of sense.

 

Could I ask you to some more questions related to "enough"?  An English-Japanese dictionary has the following sentences:

 

(7) *The pool is deep enough to dive into it.

 

(8) The pool is deep enough for children to dive into (it).

 

The dictionary says that (7), in which the subject of the to-infinitive is implicit, is ungrammatical if the object of the infinitive is explicit while (8), in which the subject of the to-infinitive ("for children") is explicit, is grammatical even if the object of the infinitive is explicit (it coul be implicit, and so it is optional).

 

Given that, I was wondering whether the presence/absense of the object of the infinitive affects the grammaticality of such sentences as:

 

(9) He has a swimming pool deep enough for adults to dive into.

 

(10) He has a swimming pool deep enough for adults to dive into it.

 

(11) He has a deep enough swimming pool for adults to dive into.

 

(12) He has a deep enough swimming pool  for adults to dive into it.

 

The "adjective enough" phrase can precede and follow the noun it modifies.  In each case, would you think the object of the infinitive should be implicit, explicit, or could be both?

 

I would appreciate your opinion!  

I agree with what your dictionary says (incredibly, I had never thought of that in those terms).

I find both (9) and (10) to be grammatical. I don't like (11) and (12). They actually sound wrong to me. I don't know if I can say they are ungrammatical, but my impression is that the (for sb) to do sth infinitival clause needs to come immediately after "enough."

Hi, Gustavo,

 

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!  It's interesting to see that the adjective enough phrase can not only follow but also precede the noun it modifies (there might be some restriction on its preceding the noun, I don't know) on one hand, and they can differ when it comes to the presence/absence of the (for sb) to do sth infinitival clause on the other hand.

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