Note on reflexive pronouns

March 15, 2012pdf

By myself / yourself

The expression by myself / yourself etc., is used to mean ‘alone’ or ‘without help.’

  • I can solve this problem by myself. (= I can solve this problem without help.)
  • She likes to spend time by herself. (= She likes to be alone.)

My own, your own etc

Reflexive pronouns do not have a possessive form. For example, we cannot say: himself’s photos or herself’s books. Instead, we use an expression with own.

  • He cooks his own meals. (NOT He cooks himself’s meals.)
  • She designs her own clothes. (NOT She designs herself’s clothes.)

Verbs not used with reflexives

Certain verbs are not usually used with reflexive pronouns. Examples are: wash, dress, concentrate, feel, strange and shave

  • He shaves every day. (NOT He shaves himself every day.)
  • Hurry! (NOT Hurry yourself!)

But reflexives are used when it is necessary to make it clear who does the action.

  • The barber shaves people who don’t shave themselves. (NOT The barber shaves people who don’t shave.)
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