English doesn’t really have reflexive verbs the way that many other languages do. However, when the same person is the subject and object of the verb we usually use a reflexive pronoun.
- I cut myself shaving this morning.
The subject – I – is also the object of the sentence – so we use the reflexive pronoun, myself.
- Why don’t you buy yourself a new car? This one’s really unreliable.
- He looked at himself in the mirror.
- She taught herself Italian using a book.
- The washing machine switches itself off when it’s finished.
- We kept ourselves warm around the fire.
- Tell me all about yourselves.
- Hedgehogs protect themselves from predators by rolling into a ball.
‘Enjoy’ is often used with a reflexive pronoun.
- Did you enjoy yourself at the party?
- From their postcard it sounds as if they’re really enjoying themselves.
‘By yourself’ means ‘alone’
- He lives by himself in a cottage by the sea.
- I’m rather anti-social. I love being by myself.
Reflexive pronouns can also be used with nouns to mean ‘Me (or you/him/her etc) and nobody else’
- Did you do this homework yourself or did you get help?
- Did you talk to the manageress herself or just to one of her assistants?
There is an important difference between reflexive pronouns and reciprocal pronouns
- They looked at themselves in the mirror. This is reflexive.
- They looked at each other lovingly. This is reciprocal. He looked at her and she looked at him.