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Reflexive Pronoun: Definition, Examples, Exercise

Reflexive Pronoun

Reflexive pronouns are words ending in -self or -selves  that are used when the subject and object of a sentence are the same (eg I believe in myself). It can act as an object or an indirect object. The nine reflexive pronouns in English are myself, yourself, himself, herself, oneself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.

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Reflexive Pronoun: Definition

According to Collins Dictionary, “Reflexive pronouns are pronouns such as ‘myself’ that refer to the subject of a sentence or clause. For example, in the sentence “She made yourself a cup of tea”, the reflexive pronoun “herself” refers to “she”. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a reflexive pronoun as “a pronoun that refers to the subject of a clause, clause, or verb phrase.”

Reflexive Pronoun: Examples

Look at the following table for easy understanding

PERSONAL PRONOUN

REFLEXIVE PRONOUN

I MYSELF
WE OURSELVES
THEY THEMSELVES
HE  HIMSELF
SHE HERSELF
YOU YOURSELF
IT  ITSELF
ONE ONESELF

Like:

  • “Myself” works with “I.”
  • “Yourself” works with the singular form of “you.”
  • “Yourselves” works with the plural form of “you.”
  • “Himself” works with “he.”
  • “Herself” works with “she.”
  • “Itself” works with “it.”
  • “Ourselves” works with “we.”
  • “Themselves” works with “them.”
  • “Oneself” works with “one”

Reflexive Pronoun Some more Examples

  1. I saw myself in the mirror.
  2. we are preparing the dinner for ourselves.
  3. They made the decorations themselves.
  4. He wanted to impress his mother, so he baked the cake himself.
  5. She prepared herself for the test.
  6.  You must do this work yourself.
  7. The wound healed itself.
  8. One should complete one’s work oneself.

When and How to use reflexive pronoun?

reflexive pronoun is used to denote that an action is done and received by the same subject. It reflects the action on itself and doesn’t involve another object. In a very nutshell, a reflexive points out that the doer and the receiver of the action are one and the same in a sentence.

Reflexive pronouns may seem unnecessary in some situations, but they are very useful for clarity when using the third person plural form of pronouns. It also helps highlight the fact that the task is being done by that specific person.

Example 1:– He looked at him.

He looked at himself.

In the example given above, there is some ambiguity in the use of “him” in the first sentence. It is not certain whether “he” refers to someone else or he refers to himself. This is where reflexive pronouns prove very useful in providing complete meaning.

Example 2:- I learned to bake a cake myself.

I learned to bake a cake.

In Example 2, the first sentence suggests that learning to bake was done alone and without assistance, whereas the second sentence suggests that the subject could have had someone else help them learn to bake. It may lead the reader to believe that there is potential.

Example 3: It is a fact that you know yourself and your potential.

In the above example, it is evident that the subject knows oneself more than anyone else.

Example 4: Tulika and Ashu have been preparing themselves for the examination.

Tulika and Ashu are the subjects in example 4 who happen to prepare themselves and no one else.

Example 5: Rahul was so tired of his daily routine that he decided to give himself a rest day.

In the above example, the reflexive pronoun ‘himself’ portrays the idea that the subject gave himself a rest day after having the same routine for a long period of time.

Difference between Reflexive and Emphatic pronouns

Use reflexive pronouns when referring to the same person, animal, or thing as the subject and object of an action. For example, consider the statement “The dog covered himself with the blanket” The reflexive pronoun here is “himself.” It indicates that the action is being done against oneself. In other words, the animal took action to cover itself.

Like reflexive pronouns, emphatic pronouns are compound personal pronouns and they also refer to the object of action to the subject.

So what is the difference between the two?

Emphatic pronouns are only used to emphasize and highlight the action of the subject.

Reflexive pronouns are used to refer to the subject in a sentence or clause, while emphatic pronouns are used to emphasize their predecessor (noun or pronoun).

For example:-

REFLEXIVE PRONOUN EMPHATIC PRONOUN
I have learned it myself. I myself have learned it.
Monika cleaned the room herself. Monika herself cleaned the room.

More examples of Reflexive pronoun

  1. I was in a hurry, so I washed the bike myself.
  2. You’re going to prepare the dinner yourself today
  3. He wanted to pay the fee himself.
  4. Jenni does the chores herself because she doesn’t like others’ work.
  5. You are too young to cook by yourselves.
  6. The actors saved the local theatre money by playing several roles themselves.

Reflexive Pronoun: Exercises

Q.1 Fill in myself, yourself, himself,… into the gaps.
1. Cindrella saw …………….in the mirror.
2. Jerry can paint the picture …………because he’s good at painting.
3. The students did the washing up……….
4. I like to watch …………..in a movie.
5. Ashu and Tishu did their homework…………
6. Joe, did you bake the cake………..?
7. The members opened the parcels…………..
8. Susi made a video film about dogs……………
9. John, can you find the way to the mall…………..?
10. My uncle built the tree house…………..

Check yourself:

  1. herself
  2. himself
  3. themselves
  4. myself
  5. themselves
  6. yourself
  7. themselves
  8. herself
  9. yourself
  10. himself

Reflexive Pronoun: Important points

  1. Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject’s actions are reflected in the subject.
  2. Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject or object of the verb is the same person or thing.
  3. Reflexive pronouns are used after verbs with prepositions to clarify who or what is being spoken about.
  4. Emphatic pronouns are used to force the subject or object in a sentence.
  5. Even if the stressed pronoun is removed from the sentence, the sentence still has meaning.

Reflexive Pronoun: FAQs

Ans. Reflexive pronouns are words ending in -self or -selves  that are used when the subject and object of a sentence are the same (eg I believe in myself). It can act as an object or an indirect object. The nine reflexive pronouns in English are myself, yourself, himself, herself, oneself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.
  2. What are the 6 reflexive pronouns?
Ans. The nine English reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, oneself, and itself, etc.

  3. How do you use reflexive in a sentence?

Ans. Reflexive pronouns are used after verbs with prepositions to clarify who or what is being spoken about.
  4. Where do we use reflexive pronouns?
  Ans. If the object and the subject of a verb are the same, use a reflexive pronoun for the object.
  5. What is an Intensive Pronoun?
  Ans. Intensive pronouns are similar to reflexive pronouns but have different functions. Intensive pronouns are used to emphasize the subject or antecedent of a sentence.

I hope you have clearly understood the reflexive pronoun. Good luck!

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