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Question She couldn't even sit up (for/by) herself.

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
Would all the sentences sound right? Do they have the same meaning?
(a) She couldn't even sit up herself.
(b) She couldn't even sit up by herself.
(c) She couldn't even sit up for herself.

Thanks in advance.
Hirashin
 
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No, these are three different meanings.

"Herself" in A emphasizes that it's she who cannot sit up, probably in contrast to someone else you're talking about who can sit up.

"By herself" in B indicates that she can't sit up without help. It implies that she can sit up with help, but not without.

"For herself" in C refers to the purpose of sitting up, i.e. it's saying that she couldn't sit up for her own sake, or something like that. This is a strange sentence that I wouldn't expect to hear.
 

johnnyG

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I guess I see (a) and (b) as roughly the same, but (b) is the more common way to express it.

Since (c) shares two of three words with stand up for (and sit and stand are kind of similar verbs), my mind tries to try to give sit up for some similar meaning. But that's like putting a square peg in a round hole--it doesn't work.

If I rec'd sit up for on a student paper, I'd look at the context and suggest an alternative.
 

johnnyG

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rec'd is more of a handwriting/note-taking shortcut than typing--easier to write than received.

also, others like nat'l = national, w/ = with
 

hirashin

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Oh, that's a shortened way of writing. I see. Thanks.
 
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