reflexive pronouns

 

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

 

Comments

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

Is ((((a drink and eat a second object or direct object ))))))

Hello tala90,

The answer is on the page just above the examples:

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.

The reflexive pronouns ('yourself' and 'ourselves') are indirect objects. The direct objects in these sentences are 'a drink' and 'something to eat' as these are the things poured and bought, respectively.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

i am glad to be here, it is dificulted to signing in, i was several times trying to made account, but it had always failed, thanks Him, i am here know

Hello Tharanga1180,

You can say either of these, but the meaning is different.

'I learnt to build that web site myself' means that you did it as opposed to asking someone else to do it for you.

'I learnt to build that web site by myself' means that you were the only person involved; no-one helped you.

I hope that answers your question.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello teacher,

Can I say and that's be right?

1- I do my homework myself.
2- I talk to my self some time.
3- Please send the email to John or myself.
4- John and myself go to the market this morning.
5- I consider my self as a best writer in the world.
6- Sometimes we need to consider themselves as a human being.
In the sentence 6 I mean can I use themselves when i don't know the gender (male or female).
7- I do the job by my self(no other one help me).

Hi,

There's something I can't seem to grasp yet and I would really appreciate your help. Is the meaning the same in the following sentences?

1) He admitted his mistake himself.
2) He himself admitted his mistake.

One last thing. The preposition "by" is always necessary when the verb is intransitive and it can be omitted when the verb is transitive. Is that right? Examples:
I live by myself.
I painted the flat (by) myself.

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