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.



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



Choose the correct reflexive pronouns to complete the sentences


Decide if the sentences are correct or incorrect


Hello mohamedfathy,

In saying, 'by myself' means that he did it alone, without anyone else's help. 'myself' (as in the example you cite) emphasises that I baked the bread, not a different person. The meanings are very similar, but can be used to emphasise different points.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,sir. Still now I was not able to understand the fine line between these two sentences( by myself and myself.) Thanks in advance.

Hello Yadav1977,

I think the best thing to do would be to try the two activities on this page. Then you could ask us a specific question about a specific sentence or two. If you explain to use how you see them, we can help you better.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Kirk

Regarding the first activity 8th question;
Ladies and gentlemen. There's masses of food, so please help ...............
Could anyone please tell me 1) the meaning of masses.
2) (There's or there're) masses of food?

Hello Isuru Lakmal Galappaththi,

The phrase 'masses of' is a quantifier and has a similar meaning to 'lots of'. It is an informal phrase, used in informal conversation rather than formal situations.

You can use this phrase with both countable and uncountable nouns and the question of 'is' or 'are' depends on this:

There is masses of time. ['time' is singular so we use 'is']

There are masses of people outside. ['people' is plural so we use 'are']


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

Thank you very much for your effort to uplift our knowledge.

Best wishes.

hellow sir... am looking for online dictionary on your web how can I find it.

Hello Aishasubira,

There is no longer a dictionary on our pages because of technical changes by Cambridge, over which we have no control.

You can access the Cambridge Online Dictionary here:


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks sir.