Intensive or Emphatic Pronouns

Introduction to Intensive or Emphatic Pronouns

An integral part of English grammar is the correct use of pronouns. Within this group, we find a category known as Intensive or Emphatic Pronouns. These pronouns are used to place emphasis on a noun or pronoun already mentioned in the sentence.

What are Intensive or Emphatic Pronouns?

Intensive or Emphatic Pronouns are pronouns that are used to emphasise or highlight the action performed by the subject. The subject and the pronoun used are always the same, i.e., they refer to the same thing.

The pronouns that can act as intensive pronouns include: 'myself', 'yourself', 'herself', 'himself', 'itself', 'ourselves', 'yourselves', and 'themselves'.

Examples of Intensive Pronouns:

Let's consider the following example:

"I myself cooked the dinner."

In this sentence, 'myself' is being used as an intensive pronoun to stress on 'I' to show that 'I' made the dinner.

Distinguishing Intensive or Emphatic Pronouns

Intensive pronouns can be distinguished from their relative pronouns on the basis of their placement in a sentence. Furthermore, unlike reflexive pronouns, intensive pronouns are not essential to the meaning of a sentence. They can be removed without altering the sense of the sentence.


"I cook myself" (reflexive)

"I myself cook" (intensive)

Role of Intensive Pronouns in a Sentence

The primary role of an intensive pronoun in a sentence is to add emphasis. It enhances the importance of the subject or the object that it refers to. The pronoun generally appears immediately after a noun, where the noun is either the subject of the verb or the object of the verb.


"The Queen herself opened the building."

In this example, 'herself' is used to emphasise that it was the Queen (and nobody else) who opened the building.

Rules for using Intensive Pronouns

There are two main rules to remember when using intensive pronouns:

  1. An intensive pronoun must refer to a noun or pronoun in the same sentence.
  2. The intensive pronoun can be removed without altering the meaning of the sentence.


Consider the sentence "You yourselves designed this plan."

In this sentence, 'yourselves' emphasises that 'you' were the designers of the plan. Its absence wouldn't significantly affect the message of the sentence, and hence, it abides by the rules of intensive pronouns.

Common Misuses of Intensive Pronouns

Often, people mix up intensive pronouns with reflexive pronouns. While they look alike, their usage is different. Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the object of a sentence are the same. On the other hand, intensive pronouns are used to lay emphasis on a preceding noun or pronoun.


Incorrect: "I need to improve myself."

Correct: "I, myself, need to improve."

In the incorrect sentence, 'myself' is used as an object and is wrongly categorized as an intensive pronoun. In the correct sentence, 'myself' is used for emphasising 'I', meeting the criteria of an intensive pronoun.


Learning to use intensive or emphatic pronouns correctly enhances our command over the English language. By placing these pronouns carefully within your sentences, you can create more impact with your words. Practice these rules and you'll master the usage of intensive or emphatic pronouns in no time.

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