Reflexive Pronouns

Pronouns - Lesson #6

Here is a list of the reflexive pronouns in English.
  • myself
  • yourself
  • yourselves
  • ourselves
  • himself
  • herself
  • oneself
  • itself
  • themselves
We use reflexive pronouns when the subject and object of a sentence are the same. We use a reflexive pronoun as the object.
  • I hit myself.
  • She talks to herself.
  • He drove himself to the concert.
  • The cat cleans itself.
  • They are teaching themselves to play the guitar.
Because the subject and object are the same, we always use the same reflexive pronoun with the same subject. For example, "myself" always goes with "I" and "itself" always goes with "it" or a singular subject, etc.
  • I drove myself.
  • I drove herself.
We use reflexive pronouns to avoid confusion. Look at this example.
  • Mark hit Mark.
Are there two men named Mark? This sentence is very confusing. But if you say:
  • Mark hit himself.
Now, the meaning of this sentence is very clear.

We also use reflexive pronouns to emphasize who does, did, or will do an action. We often use "by + reflexive pronoun" or "all by + reflexive pronoun", but these have the same meaning as just using a reflexive pronoun. They just add emphasis.
  • I cook by myself.
    (= I cook myself.)
    (= I cook all by myself.)

  • She did it herself.
  • We finished it all by ourselves.
  • The dog ate the whole cake all by itself.
We can use "yourselves" when we are talking to a group of people at one time.
  • Welcome to our home. Please make yourselves comfortable.
  • Hello Mary and Sue. Please help yourselves to some food.
We can use "oneself" when we are not talking about a specific person or there is no person mentioned.
  • A person needs to take care of oneself.
  • It is not easy to teach oneself English.
    (= It is not easy to teach yourself English.)
There are not many cases when we need to use reflexive pronouns, but sometimes they are very important to express yourself (reflexive pronoun!) clearly. Therefore, it is important that you are able to use them correctly.