What are Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are a special kind of pronouns. They are used in a sentence when the object is the same as the subject. We use reflexive pronouns to refer back to the subject of the sentence. Reflexive pronouns indicate that the person who is performing the action of the verb is also the recipient of the action. In simple terms, we use reflexive pronouns when someone does something to himself.
Reflexive pronouns always end in –self (singular) or –selves (plural). Given below are the list of reflexive pronouns.
Singular: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself
Plural: ourselves, themselves, yourselves
Examples of Reflexive Pronouns
When the subject and the object are same,
Reflexive Pronouns can be used as a direct object.
He taught himself to read.
Unable to bare the pain any longer, he shot himself.
I often ask myself why I left home.
Reflexive Pronouns can be used as an indirect object.
He poured himself a drink.
She bought herself something to eat.
Reflexive Pronouns with Prepositions
Reflexive Pronouns can be also used as the object of a preposition.
She felt sorry for herself.
Even though they had had paid for the services of a cook, they had to cook for themselves.
The old man was talking to himself.
The old man lived by himself in the enormous mansion.
I decorated the whole house by myself.
He blamed himself for her death.
Don’t worry. I can look after myself very well.
Please, help yourselves to tea and doughnuts.
Note that preposition “by” is used in a sentence when we want to show that someone did something all alone, without any help.
She lived by herself in an old cottage. = She lived alone in an old cottage.
In addition, reflexive nouns can be also used to add emphasize to a sentence. However, the reflexive pronouns that are used to emphasise something are called intensive pronouns. For example,
I myself made this cake.
The president himself came out to welcome us.
It is also important to notice that we do not generally use reflexive pronouns after verbs which people usually do for themselves. Ex: shave, wash, dress
She dressed and got ready to go to school.
However, they can be used with reflexive pronouns for emphasis.
She is too young to wash herself.
She dressed herself, despite her injuries.
Reflexive Pronouns – Summary
- Reflexive pronouns can be used in a sentence when the subject and the object are the same.
- Reflexive pronouns indicate that the person who realizes the action of the verb is the same as the recipient of the action.
- There are eight reflexive pronouns in English: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves and yourselves.
- Reflexive pronouns that are used for the function of emphasis are called intensive pronouns.