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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 fell over and hurt myself.
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 intensively 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 intensively 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



Does reflexive pronouns have grammatical category of number? and if yes explain me please?

Hello bibi,

In the table at the top of the page you can see the singular and plural reflexive pronouns. Since some are singular and some are plural, they do have number.

I think I've answered your question, but if not, please feel free to ask again.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Is the word 'ourself' really exist? If yes, what is the difference between ourself and ourselves?

Thanks in advance

Hi Rissa,

Yes, it does exist! Ourself is sometimes used instead of ourselves when a speaker uses we but is referring to a single person rather than a group of people. Here are some examples, where the speaker is referring to the listener, or each listener (i.e. a single person):

  • We must choose which aspects of ourself to express to the world.
  • Let's ask ourself a question.

However, some people consider this to be incorrect.

Best wishes,


Hello Team,

Which one is correct and need your explanation please ?

1. I love myself.
2. I love to myself.

hello which one is correct
she needs to bring an umbrella with (her or herself)in case it rains.

Hello samira_kitten,

A reflexive pronoun is not correct here in standard British English -- the correct form is 'with her'.

Though really if I were writing, I'd probably not include the prepositional phrase beginning with 'with'. It's redundant -- in other words, the verb 'bring' already includes the idea. 

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

hi.can you help me to solve this test,please? how many variants are correct?I want to meet the teacher.... myself yourself. himself. .herself. ourselves. A.2. B. 3. C4. D. 5

Hello Naila,

You could use myself, himself or herself here, depending on the context.



The LearnEnglish Team

It's really enormous.