Language Tip 25 (2014-15)

Reflections on “reflect”

Remember to use “reflect” in the passive or with a reflexive pronoun when you mean “is manifested” or “is shown”:

Incorrect: “The mood of the poem reflects in the sombre diction.”
Correct: “The mood of the poem reflects itself in the sombre diction.”
Correct (and somewhat more elegant): “The mood of the poem is reflected in the sombre diction.”

Your safest bet is the passive as this is the more common option – Google, for instance, returns some 25 million hits for “is reflected” compared to 92,000 for “reflects itself”.

Jason Blake and Monika Kavalir

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