Reflexive Pronouns | Explore What is, Definition, How and When to Use Them and Examples

Heard of reflexive pronouns? Learn how to use reflexive pronouns and how not to use them in this article.

Table of Contents

What is a Reflexive Pronoun?

The word ‘reflexive’ means something that is directed towards the self. A reflexive pronoun, therefore, is expected to do the same thing. It reflects back on the pronoun. It takes the place of a subject pronoun and an object pronoun in a sentence.

Definition of a Relative Pronoun

According to the Collins Dictionary, “a reflexive pronoun is a pronoun such as ‘myself’ which refers back to the subject of a sentence or clause. For example, in the sentence ‘She made herself a cup of tea’, the reflexive pronoun ‘herself’ refers back to ‘she’.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a reflexive pronoun as “a pronoun referring to the subject of the sentence, clause, or verbal phrase in which it stands.”

Examples of Reflexive Pronouns

Let us have a look at the following examples of reflexive pronouns.

Personal Pronoun

Reflexive Pronoun

I

Myself

You

Yourself/Yourselves

He

Himself

She

Herself

They

Themselves

We

Ourselves

It

Itself

One

Oneself

How and When to Use a Reflexive Pronoun?

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

Reflexive pronouns may seem to be unnecessary in some situations, but it turns out to be very helpful in providing clarity when using the third person plural form of pronouns. It can also aid in stressing over the fact that the task is done by that particular person and no one else.

Example 1: They looked at them.

They looked at themselves.

In the above example, there is a slight ambiguity with the usage of ‘them’ in the first sentence. We cannot be sure if ‘them’ refers to some other people or themselves. This is where the reflexive pronoun turns out to be extremely helpful in providing complete meaning.

Example 2: I learnt to drive a car by myself.

I learnt to drive a car.

In example 2, it is understood from the first sentence that the action of learning to drive a car is done alone and without any help, whereas the second sentence can let the reader think that the subject could have taken someone’s help to learn to drive.

Example 3: It is a fact that you know yourself and what is going on around you.

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

Example 4: Teena and Tyson have been preparing themselves for the entire semester.

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

Example 5: Rahul was so tired of following diets that he decided to give himself a cheat day.

In the above example, the reflexive pronoun ‘himself’ portrays the idea that the subject gave himself a cheat day after having been on a diet for a long period of time.

Test Your Understanding of Reflexive Pronouns

Let us check how far you have understood the usage of reflexive pronouns.

Fill in the blanks with the suitable reflexive pronouns in the following sentences:

1. Why can’t you do it ________?

2. Dave and Cian were trying to bake a cake all by ___________ for their mom’s birthday.

3. Casper was not able to clear his table all by __________, so his cousins helped him out.

4. The teacher asked the students to work out the maths problems by ___________.

5. It is crucial that every one of you take the responsibility of taking care of ___________.

Check out your answers.

1. Why can’t you do it yourself?

2. Dave and Cian were trying to bake a cake all by themselves for their mom’s birthday.

3. Casper was not able to clear his table all by himself, so his cousins helped him out.

4. The teacher asked the students to work out the maths problems by themselves.

5. It is crucial that all of you take the responsibility of taking care of yourselves during this pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions on Reflexive Pronouns

What is a reflexive pronoun?

A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun used as an object, and it refers back to the subject of a sentence. It takes the place of a subject pronoun and an object pronoun in a sentence.

What is the definition of a reflexive pronoun?

According to the Collins Dictionary, “a reflexive pronoun is a pronoun such as ‘myself’ which refers back to the subject of a sentence or clause. For example, in the sentence ‘She made herself a cup of tea’, the reflexive pronoun ‘herself’ refers back to ‘she’.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a reflexive pronoun as “a pronoun referring to the subject of the sentence, clause, or verbal phrase in which it stands.”

What are the examples of reflexive pronouns?

Reflexive pronouns include myself, yourself/yourselves, himself, herself, themselves, ourselves, itself and oneself.

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