Frowning to himself :)


My usual problem with reflexives in English, again…

Frowning to himself, he watched…

  1. Why not say just ‘frowning’?

  2. I also met frowning at himself.
    Is it acceptable to use at in the same meaning here?

Hi Tamara,

I can’t see frowning at himself working because that would be a physical impossibility - unless of course we’re talking mirrors. Frowning to himself is as good as frowning in meaning. By using the reflexive form you are suggesting the idea that he is on his own as usually frowning would perhaps be an outward sign to another person. This is similar to laughing to himself/smiling to himself/thinking to himself and so on, all indicating that he is doing all these things privately/on his own.


Hi Alan

Thank you for the explanation.
Generally I understand that…

My trouble is because in Russian many verbs have ONLY reflexive form (any others would sound very unnatural).

For example, in Russian ‘laughing to myself’ is doubly reflexive, in some sense :slight_smile:




I sometimes figuratively frown at myself when I feel annoyed with myself. But perhaps I should say that I frown on some of the things I do or that I tut at myself! :slight_smile:

Maybe he’s just frowning inwardly.

Hi Conchita

Thank you.

Hmm. Strange to me, but interesting.

By the way, in Russian we can use non-reflexive form of ‘frown’ (i.e. use the verb with no the special grammatical particle that denotes the reflexive form) only when we point ‘an object’ specifically (frown WHAT):

He is frowning his forehead. (or brows), for example

But, as I understand, in English you don’t use frown with ‘forehead’, just ‘to frown’ or ‘to knit one’s brows’.

Or what ‘objects’ can be used with frown in English in this sense (if any))?

Hi Tamara

The verb frown is most often used as an intransitive verb, so the only way to use an object would be to combine frown with a preposition:
[i]- He frowned at me.

  • He frowns on/upon anything less than complete honesty.[/i]

As a transitive verb, you might be able to say things such as:
- He frowned his disapproval.

In other words, he indicated his disapproval by frowning.


Thank a lot, Amy, I didn’t know this use! (and couldn’t ever suppose :slight_smile: )

What I’ve now found is frown him down, but perhaps frown down is a phrasal verb (it’s not a question, I will check it a bit later by myself).