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

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

Submitted by zerohms on Thu, 07/07/2022 - 06:38

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Hello there...I have a question...

Sam, together with Mabel, cleaned up the room (himself/themselves).

Which one is correct?

Hello zerohms,

I think 'themselves' is the best option since it was two people who did the cleaning up, but really I'd advise rewording the sentence to avoid this awkward construction.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by faridbayat72 on Tue, 19/10/2021 - 07:36

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Is this sentence correct? I myself fixed the car

Hello faridbayat72,

In this sentence, the speaker insists that she (or he) -- not a different person -- fixed the car. It's as if she is correcting someone who has said that a different person fixed the car.

If the speaker wanted to emphasise that she fixed the car with no help from anyone else, then 'I fixed the car myself' would be the correct form.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Sat, 14/08/2021 - 01:46

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Hello, excuse me I would like to know if this sentence is correct: - I'll give it to her tomorrow or should I say "I will give it tomorrow to her"? Thanks :)

Hello GiulianaAndy,

The correct word order here is ...to her tomorrow. Generally we don't put adverbial time references before either the indirect or the direct object.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by GiulianaAndy on Fri, 13/08/2021 - 04:49

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Hello, great lesson. However, I have a question, it is about this sentence: - I cut myself when I was making dinner last night. May I say: "I cut when I was making dinner last night"? And if so, what would be the difference? Thank you

Hi GiulianaAndy,

No, the verb cut normally has a direct object to show what thing is being cut (e.g. myself / my finger / paper / the cake, etc.

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you; it helped me a lot. Now, I wanted to ask another question: May I say " They sold my sister their house" or "They sold their house to my sister" interchangeable? Thank you :)