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:
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