Reflexive Pronouns – Myself, Yourself, Himself, Herself, Itself, Ourselves, Yourselves, Themselves.

The Spanish players enjoyed themselves because they won the tournament! I watched the final game and enjoyed myself because I was with my friends. But one of my friends is from Italy so he didn’t enjoy himself.

If the subject and object of a sentence both refer to the same person/thing, you should use the reflexive pronoun.

I Myself
You Yourself
He Himself
She Herself
It Itself
We Ourselves
You (pl) Yourselves
They Themselves

The plural of “you”, in the reflexive pronoun is “yourselves”.

Example of reflexive pronouns

  • My friend like to eat by herself.
  • I taught myself to speak Spanish.
  • My pet dog always licks itself.

When to use reflexive pronouns.

1. When the subject and the object refer to the same person or thing.

  • He accidentally cut himself while he was chopping the vegetables.
  • She bought a present for herself.
  • We helped ourselves to the free drinks at the launch party.
  • They injured themselves during the rugby match.
  • I enjoyed myself at the concert.
  • The dog is scratching itself – it must have fleas!

2. We use them for emphasis.

  • The author signed the book for me herself!
  • I did it myself.

3. In some cases we use it to have a similar meaning to also.

  • Annabelle was pretty happy last night. I was pretty happy myself.

When we don’t use reflexive pronouns.

1. There are a number of verbs in English with which we rarely or never use reflexive pronouns (as they are in other languages).

They include: adapt, behave, complain, concentrate, get up, hide, lie down, meet, move, relax, remember, shave, shower, sit down.

2. After a preposition of place or location we use a personal pronoun and not a reflexive pronoun.

  • He put the backpack next to him.

Ourselves, Themselves and Each Other

1. We use each other when two or more people or things perform the same action to the other.

  • Our neighbors were shouting at each other all night.
  • My brothers always compete with each other in sport.

2. Take note of the difference between these two sentences:

  • Mark and Sarah killed themselves. (They each committed suicide).
  • Mark and Sarah killed each other. (Mark killed Sarah and she killed Mark).

More about Each Other

We use the reciprocal pronoun each other when the action is between two people, and not reflexive.

  • They stared into each other’s eyes.
  • The hate each other.

And to make the contrast clearer:

    • Mike and Carol bought each other presents for Christmas
      (Mike bought a present for Carol and Carol bought a present for Mike).

is very different to

  • Mike and Carol bought themselves presents for Christmas
    (Mike bought a present for himself and Carol bought a present for herself).

Reflexive Pronouns with Objects

We use verb + reflexive pronoun + object when we do something for ourselves.

  • She cooked herself a quiche.
  • We taught ourselves French.

We use verb + object + reflexive pronoun when we want to emphasize that another person did not do the action (or assist).

  • I repaired the tire myself.
  • They did the homework themselves.
  • My brother spoke to his boss himself about a raise.

By + Reflexive Pronouns

We use by + myself/yourself/himself etc when we are alone or not with another person.

  • Jacob went to the party by himself.
  • Emma was sitting by herself.
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