Reflexive pronouns


The table below shows a list of reflexive pronouns used in English.

  • Singular
  • myself
  • yourself
  • himself
  • herself
  • itself
  • Plural
  • ourselves
  • yourselves
  • themselves

Notice two different forms (yourself and yourselves) for the second person as opposed to personal and possessive pronouns.

I forced myself to read this boring novel.
I'm positive history repeats itself.
We shook hands and introduced ourselves.
There are some questions you have to ask yourself before making the final decision.
He poured himself a drink.
Take the money and buy yourself a smart phone. You deserve it.

Form

1. The first person plural
If a number of persons including the first person is mentioned, the reflexive pronoun conforms to the first person plural: You and I should enjoy ourselves at the party.
You, Tom, and I should enjoy ourselves at the party.

2. The second person plural
If a number of persons excluding the first person is mentioned, the reflexive pronoun conforms to the second person plural:
You and Tom should enjoy yourselves at the party.

Use

As reflexive pronouns
a) Reflexive pronouns are used to replace a co-referential noun, which is usually found within the same clause:
Tom always washes himself at six o'clock in the morning.
Did you enjoy yourself last evening?

b) Reflexive pronouns may also occur after prepositions:
I can ski by myself (i.e. 'alone').
He kept smiling to himself.

c) In variation with personal pronouns, reflexive pronouns are used after as, but, except, like and in phrases:
Everybody except me / myself was present at the party.
My cousin and I / myself didn't receive the invitation to the party.

2. As emphasizing pronouns
reflexive pronouns are used to emphasize a noun or pronoun. In such a case their position varies:
a) When the reflexive pronoun emphasizes the subject of the sentence, it is either placed after the subject:
I myself built this website.
or after the object if there is one:
I built this website myself.

b) When there is an intransitive verb, the reflexive pronoun is placed after the intransitive verb:
I can go myself.
or when the intransitive verb is followed by a preposition and noun, the reflexive pronoun is placed either after this noun:
I go to the theatre myself. or after the subject:
I myself go to the theatre.

c. When another noun is emphasized, the reflexive pronoun occurs immediate after it:
I met Mary herself.

Language Bookshop