Reflexive Pronouns

We use reflexive pronouns in two different ways in English:


When the subject and object in a sentence refer to the same person or thing.

She cut herself while preparing dinner.

They told us to help ourselves if we needed anything.


When we want to add emphasis.

I was very pleased with the company’s results.

I, myself, was very pleased with the company’s results.

She cut her hair.

She cut her hair herself.


Reflexive Pronouns with Objects

When we want to talk about something we do ourselves we use the following structure:

Verb + Reflexive Pronoun + Object

I made myself a sandwich.


When we want to say that someone performed an action without any help we use the following structure:

Verb + Object + Reflexive Pronoun

I cleaned the house myself.


* Note: We use often use by in conjunction with reflexive pronouns to emphasize the fact that we completed an action alone or simply are alone.

He went to the concert by himself.

I cleaned the house by myself.


Each other

When two or more things or people do the same action to the other, we use the phrase each other (not ourselves, yourselves, themselves).

Compare the following:

We taught ourselves how to play the guitar. (I taught myself and you taught yourself)

We taught each other how to play the guitar. (we learned from each other, I taught you and you taught me)

The following tables show the reflexive pronouns we use in English and their corresponding Subject Pronouns:

Singular

Subject Pronoun

ReflexivePronoun

I

myself

you

yourself

he

himself

she

herself

it

itself

Plural

Subject Pronoun

Reflexive Pronoun

we

ourselves

you

yourselves

they

themselves


* Note: We do NOT use reflexive pronouns with a number of verbs and verb phrases (such as: adapt, complain, concentrate, get up, hide, lie down, meet, move, relax, remember, shave, shower, sit down)

So, we say:

I relaxed all weekend. (not: I relaxed myself)

He adapted the garage so more storage space. (not: He adapted the garage himself)


* Note: We use personal pronouns (subject ponoun, object pronoun, possessive) after a preposition of location or place instead of a reflexive pronoun.

So, we say:

She sat beside him. (not: She sat beside himself)

I parked my car next to hers. (not: next to herself)

For Reflexive Pronoun exercises go to:

Reflexive Pronouns