The reflexive pronouns are:

 

Singular: myself - yourself - himself - herself - itself
Plural: ourselves - yourselves - themselves


When we use a reflexive pronoun

We use a reflexive pronoun:

• as a direct object when the object is the same as the subject of the verb:

I am teaching myself to play the piano.
Be careful with that knife. You might cut yourself.

We can use a reflexive pronoun as direct object with most transitive verbs, but these are the most common:

amuse blame cut dry enjoy help
hurt introduce kill prepare satisfy teach


Some verbs change their meaning slightly when they have a reflexive pronoun as direct object:

  • Would you like to help yourself to another drink?
    = Would you like to take another drink.
  • I wish the children would behave themselves.
     = I wish the children would behave well.
  • He found himself lying by the side of the road.
    He was surprised when he realised that he was at the side of the road.
  • I saw myself as a famous actor.
    = I imagined that I was a famous actor.
  • She applied herself to the job of mending the lights.
    = She worked very hard to mend the lights.
  • He busied himself in the kitchen.
     = He worked busily in the kitchen.
  • I had to content myself with a few Euros.
    I had to be satisfied with a few Euros.

We do not use a reflexive pronoun after verbs which describe things people usually do for themselves, such as wash, shave, dress:

He washed [himself] in cold water.
He always shaved [himself] before going out in the evening.
Michael dressed [himself] and got ready for the party.

We only use reflexives with these verbs for emphasis:

He dressed himself in spite of his injuries.
She’s old enough to wash herself.

• as indirect object when the indirect object is the same as the subject of the verb:

Would you like to pour yourself a drink.
We’ve brought ourselves something to eat.

• as the object of a preposition when the object refers to the subject of the clause:

They had to cook for themselves.
He was feeling very sorry for himself.

 

Warning

But we use personal pronouns, not reflexives, after prepositions of place...

He had a suitcase beside him.

and after with when it means "accompanied by":

She had a few friends with her.

 

We use a reflexive pronoun...

• with the preposition by when we want to show that someone did something alone and/or without any help:

He lived by himself in an enormous house.
She walked home by herself.

The children got dressed by themselves.
I prepared the whole meal by myself.

• to emphasise the person or thing we are referring to:

Kendal itself is quite a small town.

especially if we are talking about someone very famous:

Sir Paul McCartney himself sang the final song.

We often put the reflexive pronoun at the end of the clause when we are using it for emphasis:

I baked the bread myself.
She mended the car herself

 

Activities
 

Choose the correct reflexive pronouns to complete the sentences

 

Decide if the sentences are correct or incorrect
Section: 

Comments

OK here is one that I constantly run into: "For further information, please contact Mr X or myself." I maintain that it should be: "For further information, please contact Mr X or me."
The test I use is to drop the "Mr X". Therefore it would be: "For further information, please contact myself." Which makes no sense.

Hello AzzurroSI,

Reflexive pronouns are sometimes used in lists of people such as the one you mention, but it's more common to see a normal object pronoun. I, like you, prefer to use an object pronoun in such cases, but it is acceptable to use the reflexive pronoun in a certain style.

Nice work with your test – this is a great way to check grammar in general!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, can anyone help me explain why this sentence is correct ? "Although he kept a large collection of whiskies, he rarely drank himself".
Thank you

Hello Salie108,

It's correct because it fits the rules of the language. I think it would be helpful if you explain why the sentence looks strange to you, and then we can respond to that.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

or more like he rarely drink them

Hello Salie108,

This would not be grammatically correct. You can use a present simple form here but you would need the third-person form ('drinks'). Whether past or present, however, the earlier comment still applies.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I was thinking more like this: Although he kept a large collection of whiskies, he rarely drank them".

Hello Salie108,

Your sentence is perfectly fine too. In the original sentence the verb 'drank' has a general meaning: it refers to the fact that he rarely drinks (presumably alcohol) at all. In your sentence the verb has a more limited frame of reference: it is possible that he drinks alcohol, but not the whiskies.

In both sentences the reflexive pronoun is used for emphasis.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, why "She still dresses herself even though she's 93." is a correct sentence when you guys said "We do not use a reflexive pronoun after verbs which describe things people usually do for themselves, such as wash, shave, dress: ??

Hello Saakshee,

As it says just below the three example sentences, it is possible to use the reflexive pronoun with 'dress' for emphasis. In the case of a 93-year-old, it seems reasonable to want to emphasise that they are able to take care of themselves in this way. In this exercise, there is not context to make this clear, but it is possible.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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