You are here

Reflexive pronouns

Level: beginner

The reflexive pronouns are:

singular: myself yourself himself herself itself
plural: ourselves yourselves themselves

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:

Reflexive pronouns 1


Be careful!

We do not use a reflexive pronoun after verbs which describe things people usually do for themselves:

He washed in cold water.
He always shaved before going out in the evening.
Michael dressed 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.

Level: intermediate

We use reflexive pronouns as an 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.

We use reflexive pronouns as the object of a preposition when the object is the same as the subject of the verb:

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

but we use object pronouns, not reflexives, after prepositions of place:

He had a suitcase beside him. (NOT himself)

and after with when it means accompanied by:

She had a few friends with her. (NOT herself)

We use reflexives with the preposition by:

  • to show that someone did something without any help:

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

  • to show that someone was alone:

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

We use reflexive pronouns 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.

Reflexive pronouns 2


Reflexive pronouns 3


Level: advanced

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 lying by 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.

Reflexive pronouns 4


Reflexive pronouns 5



Hello Adam and Jack,
I'm feeling very sorry myself (Is a phrase "I wish I don't do that" a good synonym??? ) because I'm going to ask you to correct the task1 question5. 
IT'A at the very begining of the sentence should be IT'S A. 
Thank you for your great job and attention. 
Best wishes,

Hello Andrew,
Thanks for pointing this out - don't feel bad about it! I've changed the text of the question.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Unfortunately, i couldnt do the exercise. What should I do then? Thank you so much.

Hello Renee,
I'm sorry that you had problems doing the exercise. Do you mean that it was too difficult or that there was a technical issue that stopped you from using the exercise?
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hallo! Sorry, but I have some problem with this exercise permanently. Can I read everywhere the correct sentences of 'Reflexive pronouns 2'
Thanks a lot,

Hello Mike
I'm sorry that you are not having any success with the exercise.
Do you mean that you are having technical problems with the page? Or is it that you find this language point difficult? Please let me know so I can help.
All the best
The LearnEnglish Team

What's the wrong with this sentence : (There was a large number of stars present. The director by himself was also there) ???

Hello Hany,
The problem with is with 'by himself'. It should go at the end of the sentence.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


I have a problem, when my load browser  this page, i get this error:

xml config loading error
instead of exercises, i'm using firefox 3.6.13

Could you help me?

hiiii. i'm donaa. i had this problem before so i made update for firefox form " help list "