Reflexive pronouns

Do you know how to use reflexive pronouns like myself, yourself or themselves? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how reflexive pronouns are used.

She looked at herself in the mirror.
I'm trying to teach myself Italian with an app.
Our children walk to school by themselves.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Reflexive pronouns: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Reflexive pronouns are words like myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves. They refer back to a person or thing.

We often use reflexive pronouns when the subject and the object of a verb are the same. 

I cut myself when I was making dinner last night.
I hope you enjoy yourselves at the party tonight!
My phone isn't working properly. It turns itself off for no reason.
We need to believe in ourselves more.

Adding emphasis

We can add a reflexive pronoun for emphasis when it's unusual or different.

He wants to pass his driving test so that he can drive himself to work.
She broke her arm, so she couldn't wash herself very easily.

We can use reflexive pronouns to emphasise that someone does it personally, not anybody else.

The door was definitely locked. I locked it myself.
Are you redecorating your flat yourselves?

We can also use a reflexive pronoun together with the noun it refers to in order to emphasise it.

We talked to the manager herself, and she agreed to give us our money back.
Parents themselves need to take more responsibility for their children's learning.

By + reflexive pronoun

We can use by + reflexive pronoun to mean alone.

He usually goes on holiday by himself.
Do you enjoy being by yourself?

Reciprocal pronouns

Notice the difference between plural reflexive pronouns and reciprocal pronouns (each other, one another).

They're buying themselves a new television.
They're buying each other small gifts.
We looked at ourselves in the mirror.
We looked at each other in surprise.

With reciprocal pronouns (e.g. each other), each person does the action to the other person/people but not to themselves. 

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Reflexive pronouns: Grammar test 2

Language level

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Hi GiulianaAndy,

Yes, that's right! They mean the same thing and are both grammatically correct.

The two objects (their house / my sister) are quite short and easy to understand. But if one of the objects is long, we normally put that at the end, to make the sentence easier to understand. For example:

  • They sold my oldest sister Julie, who lives in London, their house. (correct, but a bit difficult to understand)
  • They sold their house to my oldest sister Julie, who lives in London. (correct and easier to understand)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by SaraZaber on Tue, 23/02/2021 - 02:17

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Is this sentence grammatically appropriate if 'YOU' is given as fill in the blanks? You went to school.

Hi SaraZaber,

Yes, it's a grammatically correct sentence! If 'You' is the blank, there are many other possible answers too, e.g. I, she, they, my teacher, everybody.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by SaraZaber on Mon, 22/02/2021 - 15:03

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Is this sentence correct? You went to the picnic.

Hello SaraZaber,

Yes, it is grammatically correct, though without knowing the context, it's difficult to say whether it's appropriate or not.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emmanuelniyomugabo12 on Sat, 26/09/2020 - 00:14

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That's very good course. Let's continue
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Submitted by Karan Narang on Sat, 25/07/2020 - 04:26

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I merely learned myself these reflexive pronoun I cleaned my doubts. Now I will comfortable to use these thing in my daily routine also increase my abilities of speaking so thanks you loads.
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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 25/05/2020 - 04:25

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It's really fabulous.

Submitted by Bharati on Sat, 22/02/2020 - 05:46

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Are emphatic reflexive Pronoun also used adverbially Example-I locked it myself. Here myself modifies locked(answering locked how)

Hello Bharati,

There are two distinct categories here: reflexive pronouns and intensive pronouns.

Intensive pronouns have an adverbial function, as you say. Confusion arises because they have the same form as reflexive pronouns, despite being a different class of word.

You can read more about this here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intensive_pronoun

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team