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Reflexive Pronouns

Overview and Definition

When the subject and object of a phrase are the same, reflexive pronouns are employed. They are terms that end in -self or -selves (e.g., I have faith in myself). These can function as direct or indirect object.

Reflexive Pronouns

Myself, yourself, him, her, oneself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves are the nine English reflexive pronouns. They are referring to a person or object.

Hence at the time when the subjects and objects of the verbs are exact, one mostly utilizes reflexive pronoun. (This can be one of the important rules of reflexive pronoun)

Let us look at few instances of reflexive pronoun;

  1. I injured myself while cooking pizza last night.
  2. I hope you enjoy yourselves at the concert tonight!
  3. My smartphone isn't functioning properly. It turns itself off for no explicable cause.
  4. We should have more faith in ourselves.

When Should You Use Reflexive Pronouns?

Reflexive pronouns are utilized to showcase/ display that the subject is acting on or for itself. Rather than acting on another object, the subject acts on itself, whether literally or metaphorically.

This is especially useful when utilizing the third-person plural. Let us see the below- mentioned statements:

They enthralled them.

They enthralled themselves.

Reflexive Pronouns

In the first example, it's unclear if "them" refers to anything else or to the original "they," the statement's subject/noun.

You have a better comprehension in the second scenario since you know that anything or anyone "they" refers to is the same as "themselves."

Reflexive Pronouns Are Objects

The conclusion of reflexive pronouns is a major distinguishing feature. They typically finish in -self or -selves and relate back to a word or pronoun that was previously stated.

One important thing to consider is that the pronoun is always employed as the object of a phrase, occurring after the verbs.

As an example:

I trained myself to play instruments.

You know yourself best than anybody else.

The subject/noun in the first instance is "I," the verb is "train," and the reflexive pronoun "myself" refers back to the noun "I." "Myself" is also the object, as it responds to the word "trained."

In the above mentioned scenario, the subject/noun is "you," the verb is "know," and the reflexive pronouns is "yourself," that alluded back to the noun "you." You" is also the object, responding to the word "know."

Reflexive Pronouns as Direct or Indirect Objects

These can refer to both direct and indirect objects. When a reflexive pronoun is a direct object, it functions similarly to the subject and gets the function of a transitive verb, such as:

I cut myself while chopping down the plant.

We have been gearing up ourselves for influenza season.

When the reflexive pronouns are utilized as the indirect objects, it explains why or for whom the act or the action is undertaken. As an example:

I purchased a small automobile for myself.

We will offer ourselves a binge day.

Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive Pronouns to Exhibit Independent Actions

You can employ reflexive pronouns in conjunction with the term "by" to signify "alone" or "without assistance":

I went to the theatre by myself.

The kids cleaned up their dormitories by themselves.

Reflexive Pronouns as Intensive Pronouns

These pronouns also can be employed to emphasize the nouns or pronouns, in which case they are referred to as emphatic or intensive pronoun. When it is emphatic, the pronoun can be omitted, and the statement will still make logical sense:

I authored all the lyrics myself. (I authored all the lyrics.)

Thomas isn't bluffing. Peter himself confessed to me. (Peter confessed to me.)

Common Mistakes When Using Reflexive Pronouns

Certain sectors are rife with the overuse of reflexive pronouns. The most prevalent error is using reflexive pronouns in compound subjects or complex objects in a phrase.

Below is the perfect instance of the initial type of offense.

Ian and myself will undertake today's conference. - Incorrect

How do we understand that myself somehow doesn't belong in this sentence as part of the compound subject (Ian and the speaker)? Remove Ian from the picture and see if what remains works properly.

Myself will undertake today's conference. - Incorrect

Apparently, myself is ineffective, but the subject pronoun I is.

I will undertake today's conference.- Correct

Ian and I will undertake today's conference.- Correct

In present day corporate world, the incorrect usage of reflexive pronoun as the object is just as common.

You may send your expenditures to Mr. James or myself before Saturday.- Incorrect

Mr. James and the speaker are the indirect objects of this phrase, and you are the subject. By removing Mr. James from the statement, it becomes clear that myself will not apply here in the statement.

You may send your expenditures to myself before Saturday.- Incorrect

Rather, the statement necessitates the use of the object pronoun me.

You may send your expenditures to me before Saturday.- Correct

You may send your expenditures to Mr. James or me before Saturday.- Correct

Reflexive Pronouns


In ordinary language, reflexive pronouns are common. These permit you to clearly refer back to or highlight on the subjects of the statements.

Some more examples of Reflexive Pronouns

  1. I whispered to myself to relax.
  2. When you're sick, rather than diagnosing yourself, consult a doctor.
  3. The skyscraper would crumble in on itself if it did not have a robust steel frame.
  4. We believed to ourselves, that's been the finest day we have already managed to spend together!
  5. Kate purchased herself a new dress for her new position.
  6. She wouldn't be so fit if she wasn't pressing herself every time at the fitness center.
  7. Pull yourselves together - Principal will be visiting any second!
  8. They handled themselves quite well as participants of the summit panel.
  9. It is important not to hurt oneself with the blade.
  10. She admired herself in the mirror
Reflexive Pronouns

This concludes the lesson on Reflexive Pronouns, practicing it often can help you grasp the concept better.

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