Reflexive Pronouns! What is a reflexive pronoun? A reflexive pronoun is used when we wish to speak about the self, for example words which end in either -self or -selves. This is a frequently used type of pronoun in English and it is important for the English student to fully understand their function.
In this section, we are going to be looking at exactly what the reflexive pronoun is used for and how it functions within both spoken and written English. This will enable you to gain a greater understanding of the concept as well as allowing you to form more grammatically correct sentences.
What Is a Reflexive Pronoun?
Reflexive pronouns are words that end in –self (when in singular form) and –selves (when in plural form) and are only applied whenever the subject and the object of a sentence are similar (for example, I did it by myself.) A reflective pronoun can function as a direct or indirect object.
In English grammar, reflexive pronouns are categorized into two singular and plural.
List of Reflexive Pronouns
Here you will find useful reflexive pronouns list with example sentences and ESL printable worksheets.
There are eight reflexive pronouns:
Singular Reflexive Pronouns
Plural Reflexive Pronouns
How to Identify and Define Reflexive Pronouns
As from above, identifying reflexive pronouns in a sentence is effortless since they end in –self (when in singular) and –selves (when in plural) and refer back to a noun or pronoun that has already been mentioned. These pronouns are preceded by a verb and act as an object in a sentence making it easy to identify them.
Here are examples:
- I taught myself to key in data in a computer.
- You are the only one who knows yourself better than the rest.
In the first sentence, the subject/noun is represented by “I” the verb here is “taught” and “myself” is the reflective pronoun that refers back to the noun “I.” Here the verb “taught” is being answered by the object “myself.”
In the second sentence, “You” is the subject, which is also the noun, the verb is “know” and the reflexive pronoun is “Yourself” which refers back to the subject “You.” The verb “know” is being answered by “Yourself,” which is the object as well as the reflexive pronoun.
How to Match Reflexive and Personal Pronouns?
Since you are familiar with their working, the following a list of reflexive and personal pronouns that correspond.
Reflexive pronoun corresponding personal pronoun:
- Myself – I
- Yourself – You
- Yourselves – You
- Himself – He
- Herself – She
- Itself – It
- Ourselves – We
- Themselves – Them
The following are examples of each reflexive pronoun in sentences.
- I have told myself that a couple of times.
- Instead of diagnosing yourself every time you get unwell, consult a physician in advance.
- Without a good foundation, the house wouldn’t withstand storms by itself.
- We thanked ourselves for attending the meeting on time.
- He bought himself a new tablet.
- If she weren’t forcing herself to sleep late, she wouldn’t have excelled in her final exam.
- Prepare yourselves, the guest of honor will be arriving any time from now.
- They managed themselves very well as members of the conference panel.
- Mary cheated to herself, “This is the right time for a vacation!”
- I forced myself to get up today in the morning.
When to Use Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are, in most cases, used to determine whether the subject is performing an action by or to itself. Rather than exerting its action on a different object, the subject exerts the action on itself literally or figuratively.
This is more common whenever the third-person plural is being used. Let’s look at the following sentences:
- They misguided them.
- They misguided themselves.
In the first sentence, you’re not certain whether “them” is denoting to something different or referring back to “they,” which is the subject of the sentence.
In the second sentence, it’s evident who the subject “they” is referring to, and in this case, it refers to the reflexive pronoun “themselves.”
Reflexive pronouns can be used in conjunction with the word “by” to indicate “alone” or “with no help.” Here are the examples:
- I went to the Australian gardens by myself.
- The boys cleaned the room by themselves.
Reflexive Pronouns as Direct Objects
A reflexive pronoun qualifies to be a direct object if the subject and the direct object in a sentence are similar. Here is an example to illustrate this.
- Jason chose to reward Jacob with the unused smartphone.
- Jason chose to reward himself with the unused smartphone.
In the first example, Jacob (object) is the receiver of the reward. In the second sentence, Jason (subject) is the object that received the reward, thus the use of the reflexive pronoun himself.
Reflexive Pronouns as Indirect Objects
They can act as indirect objects in a sentence. Here is an example.
- Ann wakes up her younger brother every morning.
- Ann wakes herself every morning.
Always use reflexive pronouns in your writing to make it informative and engaging to your readers. Correct use of these pronouns is necessary if you’re to improve your grammar as well as your writing skills.
Reflexive Pronoun Infographic