Correct Uses of Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are a sub-group of pronounsOpens in new window that refer to the subjectOpens in new window of the clauseOpens in new window or sentenceOpens in new window within which it is used, indicating that the subject and objectOpens in new window of the verbOpens in new window are one and the same.
Reflexive pronouns can be formed simply by adding –self, in singular case, or –selves, in plural case, to the objective or possessive form of the personal pronoun, as in myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, oneself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.
Reflexive pronouns are shown in the table below:
|Singular||myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, oneself|
|Plural||ourselves, yourselves, themselves|
Uses of Reflexive Pronouns and Examples
Remember that reflexive pronouns generally refer back to the subject of the sentence, and emphasize the subject and object of the verb as one.For Example:
- The computer will hibernate itself after 30 min. of inactivity.
- He taught himself to play the piano.
In both sentences, the reflexive pronouns, itself, and himself, all refers to the subject, computer, and He respectively.
It is important to note that reflexive pronouns will not necessarily take place immediately after the verb, but may otherwise follow a prepositionOpens in new window.For Example:
- He was happy with himself for his achievements.
- She should be ashamed of herself.
- You should be proud of yourself.
- Would you like to fix yourself a lunch.
- We have bought ourselves some reading materials.
Do not use a reflexive pronoun to replace the subject or object of a sentence. Remember, a reflexive pronoun merely emphasizes a noun or pronoun that has already been mentioned.Consider these sentences:
- Laurel excited Willy and me. (Not Willy and myself)
- Laurel and I were giving PT job. (Not Laurel and myself)
Certain errors are often met, especially when a writer is tempted to replace a personal pronoun with a reflexive pronoun. Note that it is incorrect to replace a phrase such as:
- Bob and I have to go with Bob and myself have to go.
Note also that it would be incorrect to replace a sentence such as:
- Father needed provisions, so I got some things for us and him with Father needed provisions, so I got some things for us and himself.
This is because Father is not the subject of the verb, got.