LINGUIST List 9.139

Fri Jan 30 1998

Sum: 'enjoy oneself (by) doing'

Editor for this issue: Anita Huang <>


  1. Hiroaki Tanaka, 'enjoy oneself (by) doing'

Message 1: 'enjoy oneself (by) doing'

Date: Fri, 30 Jan 1998 13:28:29 +0900
From: Hiroaki Tanaka <>
Subject: 'enjoy oneself (by) doing'

Dear All,
 I posted a query about "enjoy + (by) doing" on Fri. 23 January. The
question was the following. To this, I received responses from 6 people
below. I thank you all who made commented on my investigation.

C.D. Nilep, E. Lattey, C.T. Scott, L. Fadden, R.P.P. INgham, 
R. Phaedra

 The query:
- -------------------------------------
> My former teacher in the university I graduated, a famous
> lexcographer here in Japan, who is compiling many English-Japanese
> dictionaries, wants to know whether the following "enjoy + oneself
> +(by) + doing" is currently used in America, Britain and other English
> speaking countries. Logically, "enjoy + oneslef + doing" consturction
> in (3) below is impossible, because "enjoy" does not take double
> object construction. But he arugues against this, saying that the
> developmental strategy of "enjoy" is from (1a) to (1d). The questions
> are: (i)Which type in (2a)-(2e) do you think is the most appropriate,
> acceptable structure of "enjoy"? (ii)Which do you think is the most
> old-fashioned, out of use, type in (2a)-(2e)? (iii) Do you think are
> there any regional differences among these sentences?
> (1) a. enjoy oneself by doing
> -->b. enjoy oneself (by) doing
> -->c. enjoy oneself doing
> -->d. enjoy doing
> (2) a. I had a good time playing golf.
> b. I enjoyed myself playing golf.
> c. I enjoyed myself while playing golf.
> d. I enjoyed myself playing golf.
> e. I enjoyed playing golf.
> For your information, I refer to the curious omission of "enjoiy
> oneself" in the 5th edition of Oxford Advanced Learners
> Dictionary(OUP), although there is one in the 4th edition of the
> dictionary(The children enjoyed themsleves playing in the water).
> I will post a summary. I'm looking forward to your replies. Please
> e-mail me directly to the following address. Enjoy yourself answering
> my question!
> Thanks a lot in advance.
- ---------------------------------------------
 I made a bad mistake in typing my query on my PC. First, there is 
no (3) above. I meant (1c) there. Second, (2b) and (2d) are the 
same. Acutually, (2b) is,
 I enjoyed myself by playing golf.
I wanted to know if there is any difference between "enjoy oneself 
by doing" and "enjoy oneself doing", and if both are acceptable 
and actually being used in English speaking countries. If any of you 
have further comments on this problem, please mail me directly.

- ----------------------------------------------
 The responses from the 6 people above are summarised as:
 (i)"enjoy doing" and "enjoy by doing" are mostly acceptable, 
but not heard and seem strange to the English speakers. Much 
more common is "have fun (ehile) doing".

 (ii)"enjoy doing" and "enjoy oneself doing" are differently 
interpreted. The former is something like "like that activity" and 
the latter is "have a good time at that activity.

 (iii)"enjoy oneself while doing" is read as "enjoy doing 
something" and "during that time doing something else is fun". 
The two different activities are being done and enjoyed at the 
same time.

 (iv)I mentioned that "enjoy oneself doing" is impossible because 
it has double object construction. I aslo agree with my former 
professor that "doing" is not an object here. As R. Ingham pointed 
out, it has the same structure as "playing" in "I fell down playing 

 (v)there seem to be no answer to the question whether these 
constructions are old fashioned or not. I did not mean to say that 
"old fashioned" is Old English or English in ancient time. Oldness 
and regional difference of these constructions may be better 
understood if we receive more responses. 

 Thank you very much for all those who helped me a lot. If you 
have further comments on this problem, please feel free to 
contact me.

Best wishes,

Hiroaki Tanaka

Associate Professor
Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences
Tokushima University, Japan
1-1, Minamijousanjioma,
Tokushima, 770-8502,

phone & fax: +81 886 56 7125
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