When the subject of a sentence is a personal pronoun, a reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject. The reflexive pronoun acts as the object pronoun. By using the reflexive pronoun, we show that the subject of the sentence is the same as the object with the subject acting on itself as expressed by the verb in the sentence.

 

There are altogether eight reflexive pronouns and none of these are used as the subject of a sentence. Each personal pronoun has a corresponding reflexive pronoun which is formed by adding –self to the singular and –selves to the plural pronouns as shown in the following table.

 

 

                       Personal Pronouns

 

                                     Reflexive Pronouns

  Singular Plural Singular Plural
First person I We myself ourselves
Second person You You yourself yourselves
Third person He They himself themselves
  She They herself themselves
  It They itself themselves

  

 

Examples:

  • Sometimes I think to myself that it is time to lose some weight.
  • You often talk to yourself and nobdoy knows what you talk about.
  • He tried to be himself and not be like Michael Jackson all the time
  • She likes to look at the mirror and smile to herself.
  • One of the dogs spent hours licking itself
  • We do not always make ourselves practise what we preach.
  • You fellows can help yourselves to the drinks.
  • They spent some time familiarizing themselves with the new workplace.

 

The subject and the object are the same person. The antecedent subject pronoun comes first and the reflexive pronoun refers to it. If we don’t use the reflexive pronoun, the meaning changes as shown by this example.

 

Examples:

  • She baked herself a birthday cake.
  • She baked her a birthday cake.
    (The second sentence says she baked a birthday cake for somebody else.)

 

 Besides those in the table, there is another reflexive pronoun: oneself.

Examples:

  • One has to improve oneself all the time.
  • One shouldn’t expect others to behave in the same way as oneself.
  • It is important to that one think positively about oneself

 

 

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