Reflexive pronouns are words like myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, oneself, ourselves and themselves.
A very common use of reflexive pronouns is to talk about actions where the subject and object are the same person.
- The old woman killed herself. (Here the subject and object are the same person – the old woman.)
- I am going to the shops to get myself some clothes.
We can use reflexive pronouns as subject or object emphasisers. When used emphatically a reflexive pronoun means ‘that person / thing and nobody / nothing else’.
- The manager himself said this. (= The manager and nobody else said this.)
- I myself talked to him.
- I will see the President himself if I have to.
Reflexives used instead of personal pronouns
Reflexive pronouns are used instead of personal pronouns after words like as, like, but (for) and except (for).
- Everybody turned up except yourself. OR Everybody turned up except you.
By oneself / yourself etc
The expressions by oneself / yourself etc can mean ‘alone’ or ‘without company’.
- She said that she would like to spend some time by herself. (= She would like to spend some time alone.)
No possessive forms
The reflexive pronouns do not have possessive forms. Instead, we use my own, your own, our own etc.
- I always cook my own food. (NOT I always cook myself’s food.)
Reflexives not used
Certain verbs are not used with reflexive pronouns. Examples are: open, sell, feel, hurry etc.
- Hurry! (NOT Hurry yourself!)
- I felt strange. (NOT I felt myself strange.)