Reflexive Pronoun


We use a reflexive pronoun in a sentence to refer back to a subject that has already been identified.

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"Reflexive" means "going back to itself."

Reflexive pronouns show that the action affects the person who performs the action.

They end in "-self" (singular) or "-selves" (plural).

The reflexive pronouns are: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves. 

A reflexive pronoun is used when the object of a sentence is the same as the subject. Reflexive pronouns act as the object of the sentence by receiving the action.

She hugs herself.

She hugs herself


A subject in a sentence is the noun that is performing the action.
  • The dog played.
In this sentence dog is the subject


The object of a sentence receives the action.
  • The dog played with the ball.
In this sentence, the ball is the object because it is receiving the action.

Summary table

Personal Pronoun Reflexive Pronoun
I myself
you (singular) yourself
you (plural) yourselves
he himself
she herself
it itself
we ourselves
they themselves


Reflexive pronouns always act as the objects, not subjects.

Examples:
  • The vase fell off the shelf by itself

    The subject of this sentence is the vase. The object of this sentence is also the vase (itself).
  • Sally talks to herself.

    Sally is the subject of this sentence. Sally is also the object of this sentence (herself).
  • Incorrect: Lisa and myself are going to the park.

    In this sentence, Lisa and myself are the subjects. Reflexive pronouns cannot be subjects.

  • Correct: I bought myself a piece of pie.

    In this sentence I is the subject and myself is the object.
    The reflexive pronoun is correctly used as an object in this sentence.


How to use a reflexive pronoun

1. Use a reflexive pronoun when the subject and object are the same.

She exhausted herself.

A lady running in circles

Examples:
  • He tripped himself. 

  • The cat cleaned itself.

  • Nick bought himself some popcorn.

  • We tried to fix it ourselves.


2. Use a reflexive pronoun as the object of a preposition when the subject and object are the same.

He thought to himself.

"Kevin wants some ice-cream."

A preposition is a word that is used before a noun to show its connection to another word in the sentence. Here are a few common prepositions:
  • with

  • by

  • for

  • from

  • as

  • among

  • to

Examples:

  • She is talking to herself.

  • He will go to the party by himself.

  • The boy finished it by himself.

  • We bought gifts for ourselves.

3. Use a reflexive pronoun to emphasize, or stress, the subject of a sentence.

He drove the tractor himself.

Example of a verb

Examples:

  • He will do it himself. (He does not need any help.)

  • They painted the house themselves. (No one else helped them.)

  • The cat hurt itself. (No one else hurt the cat.)

  • My son read the book himself. (My son did not need help to read the book.)


More examples of reflexive pronouns

Incorrect: The students completed the work by himself and herself.
Correct: The students completed the work by themselves.

Incorrect: She hurt himself.
Correct: She hurt herself.

Incorrect: We want to go by themselves.
Correct: We want to go by ourselves.

Incorrect: Tim and himself are cleaning the garage.
Correct: Tim is cleaning the garage by himself.


These were the uses of the Reflexive Pronoun. Now that you know them, it is time to practice! Read and do exercises.

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