The use of reflexive pronouns in English (EFL/ESL grammar: rules, use and practice)
Reflexive pronouns are words that end in ‘self’ or ‘selves’and which are used when the subject and the object of a sentence are teh same, for instance : « she trusts herself ». Reflexive pronouns might function as objects or indirect objects. They
are : my self, yourself, himself, herself, oneself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. Check the following table where each reflexive pronouns corresponds to subject pronouns.
- Note: It is the only area of English grammar that is reflexive.
Note : if you use YOU in the plural, the reflexive pronoun is yourselves.
- My son likes to teach himself without my help.
- I sawt myself in the mirror.
- My dog always licks itself.
- Everyone must respect themselves before respecting others.
The use of reflexive pronouns
- We use reflexive pronouns when the subject and the object refer to the same person or thing.
- He bought a present for himself.
- I helped myself during the concert.
- She injured herself during thebasketball match.
- I enjoyed myself at the football game.
- The cat is scratching itself.
- We use reflexive pronouns for emphasis.
- The player signed the contract for us herself!
- I myself took the money to her.
- In some situations, we use reflexive pronouns as ALSO.
- They were quite happy in the beach. I was at home happy myself.
When NOT to use reflexive pronouns
- We don’t use reflexive pronouns with the following reflexive pronouns : (move, relax, remember, shave, shower, sit down, adapt, complain, concentrate, get up, hide, lie down, meet).
- we don’t use reflexive pronouns after a preposition of place. We use a personal pronouns instead.
He puts his book next to him.
By + Reflexive Pronouns
We use by + myself/yourself/himself (and others) when we are alone or not with anyone else.
- I went to school by myself.
- My sister was sitting by herself.
Reflexive Pronouns with Objects
You can use verb + reflexive pronoun + object when you do something for yourselves.
- She bought herself a pizza.
- We helped ourselves have a drink.
Or, you can use verb + object + reflexive pronoun when you want to emphasize that another person did not do the action (or assist).
- I told them everything myself.
- She did the housework herself.
- My sister spoke to her boss herself about the promotion.
Check your understanding here