The reflexive pronouns are:
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
We do not use a reflexive pronoun after verbs which describe things people usually do for themselves:
We only use reflexives with these verbs for emphasis:
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
and after with when it means accompanied by:
She had a few friends with her. (NOT
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.
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.