Reflexive Pronouns


Certain pronouns are known as reflexive pronouns.

1. Common Uses

baby looking in a mirror

We use reflexive pronouns when the subject and object in a sentence are the same, as in the following examples.

The baby saw himself/herself in the mirror and laughed.

Can I borrow your spare key, so I can let myself into the apartment.

If you don't know him, you should introduce yourself.

Reflexive pronouns are also used to stress or emphasize a noun, in which case they are most often placed immediately after the noun, as in the following example sentences.

Money itself can't buy happiness.

The company president himself made the announcement.

I myself am not interested.

The use of "by + reflexive pronoun" signifies that the performer of the action had no help, as in this example sentence.

She made the dress by herself (or simply herself).

However, "be + reflexive pronoun" means to act or behave in an unusual manner. See the following example sentence.

I'm sorry for getting angry. I guess I'm not myself today. (The meaning here is that the speaker is not behaving as he or she usually does.)

2. Uses with Verb + Preposition Combinations

Reflexive pronouns are used after many verb + preposition combinations, such as those that follow:

Verb + Preposition Example
believe in If you believe in yourself, you will succeed.
take care of Take care of yourselves while I'm away.
look after Look after yourselves while I'm away.
care about If you don't care about yourself, nobody else will.

3. Seldom or Never Used

Many English words, however, such as those which follow, are seldom or never used with reflexive pronouns.

Concentrate Hurry Remember
Decide Lie down Sit down
Feel Meet Wake up
Get tired Relax  

4. Uses for Emphasis

Certain other English words are only used with reflexive pronouns for emphasis. Some of them are listed below.

Dress Hide Shave
Undress Move Wash

When you are sure that you understand the lesson, you can continue with the exercise.