FEEL ONESELF – LET’S DEBUNK THIS MYTH
Russians are often told by us native teachers (many of whom used to be ex-pizza deliverers before getting a CELTA) that FEEL ONESELF is incorrect and means, if used, to touch yourself in an “oh la la way!” Not entirely! My 45 years of research has come to an end and I will show you what’s correct. ☝🏻
So here goes: 😇
To feel oneself = to touch yourself in an “Oh la la way” really has to be used in the continuous to have that meaning. BUT, it is almost never used. TOUCH oneself would be the one to use…. if you honestly needed to inform someone you’re doing this: 🤔
👉🏻 I’m feeling myself right now because I am bored and the internet is down. (better: touching myself)
Now this is where is gets complicated when used in the Simple and is directly translated from the Russian “чувствовать себя.”
We don’t use the “reflexive” as often as many other languages do like Russian and German. So about emotions, well-being etc, it’s not reflexive in English:
👉🏻 I feel myself happy! (fuu!) – I feel happy!
👉🏻 Do you feel yourself well enough? (fuu!) – Do you feel well enough?
👉🏻 She feels herself bad (fuu!) – She feels bad!
Even Collins online dictionary says “to feel onself” is soooooooo rare. But if you know your grammar, yes, we can use this in the continuous and it’s still not reflexive:
👉🏻 I’m feeling myself so happy! (fuu!) – I’m feeling so happy!
👉🏻 Are you feeling yourself well enough? (fuu!) – Are you feeling well enough?
👉🏻 She’s feeling herself bad! (fuu!) – She’s feeling bad!
This is where we CAN say “to feel oneself” but the usage is soooooo specific… and rare! If we use the “reflexive” the meaning changes somewhat to: believe/perceive when there is an infinitive complement:
👉🏻 I feel myself to be a hero! (I perceive myself to be)
👉🏻 John feels himself to be quite superior! (He perceives himself to be)
👉🏻 Sarah feels herself to be in charge! (She perceives herself to be)
There are some structures +ing, too:
👉🏻 I feel myself getting depressed! (I believe/perceive that I am getting…)
👉🏻 I feel myself going mad day by day! (i believe I am)
👉🏻 Sarah feels herself becoming the confident woman she always dreamed of!
Although those examples are grammatically correct, the infinitive ones are rare but the +ing being more common. We prefer some alternatives to the infinitive structures; formal vs normal:
👉🏻 I feel AS IF I am/were a hero!
👉🏻 John feels AS IF he is/were quite superior!
👉🏻 Sarah feels AS IF she is/were in charge!
Normal (we can omit “like” here):
👉🏻 I feel (like) I am a hero!
👉🏻 John feels (like) he is quite superior!
👉🏻 Sarah feels (like) she’s in charge!
There is a common structure “like myself.” And it means to feel like one usually does.
👉🏻 I’ve finally started to feel like myself again after weeks of feeling ill!
👉🏻 I don’t feel (like) myself today. Maybe I’m just in a bad mood! (I can drop like here)
👉🏻 She hasn’t been feeling (like) herself since the accident!
So when we often joke that “I feel myself happy” means to touch yourself in a happy way, it’s rubbish. It actually makes no sense!
So guys, I hope that was useful and makes things a bit clearer. That was a tough post for me so now I’m going to relax for a few hours 😎