Reflexive Pronoun

Definition: We use the reflexive pronouns to indicate that the person who realizes the action of the verb is the same person who receives the action. Reflexive pronouns are identical in form to intensive pronouns.

  Subject Reflexive
Singular I
Plural We

For example:

  • I cut my hair myself.
    * In this example "I" does the action of cutting the hair and at the same time "I" gets the action of the hair being cut.

  • We defended ourselves brilliantly.
    * In this example the reflexive pronoun "ourselves" refers back to the subject of the sentence.

  • John talks to himself when he is nervous.
    * In this example "Himself" refers to John.

Reflexive pronouns always act as objects not subjects, and they require an interaction between the subject and an object.

For example:

  • Because she was not hungry when the cake was served, Ellen saved herself a piece.
    * In the independent clause, "Ellen" is the subject and "herself" is a reflexive pronoun acting as the indirect object. This sentence is grammatically correct.

  • Jhon and myself are going to the movie.
    * In this sentence, "Jhon" and "myself" are the subjects. Reflexive pronouns cannot be subjects. This sentence is grammatically incorrect.

Care must be taken to identify whether the noun is singular or plural and choose the pronoun accordingly.

For example:

  • Nor is she shy about giving herself credit for it.
  • We gave ourselves a second chance to complete the course.
  • Did they lock themselves out of the house again?
  • Give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done.

Note: The reflexive pronoun can also be used to give more emphasis to the subject or object (intensive pronoun).

For example:

  • I did it myself.
    * I want to emphasise the fact that I did it.


  • He washed himself.
  • She looked at herself in the mirror.
  • Diabetics give themselves insulin shots several times a day.
  • After the party, I asked myself why I had faxed invitations to everyone in my office building.
  • Richard usually remembered to send a copy of his e-mail to himself.

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