Reflexive Pronouns

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Welcome to your Reflexive Pronouns Lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• What is a reflexive pronoun?
• When are we unable to use reflexive pronouns?
• -selves and each other
• Other uses of reflexive pronouns
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

What is a Reflexive Pronoun? Testing

Have a look at these examples:

“When I’m alone, I talk to myself.”

“He excused himself, and left the room.”

“We saw ourselves on the video, and were quite embarrassed!”

Here is the list of subjects, with their reflexive pronoun counterparts:

I You We They He She It
Myself Yourself
Ourselves Themselves Himself Herself Itself

Here are a few more examples:

“I’m not washing your car! Wash it yourself!”

“We had a great weekend by the beach, we really enjoyed ourselves.”

“I woke up, and made myself a coffee.”

“He was falling asleep, he had to wake himself up.”

Look at the difference in meaning between these two sentences:

“She loves her.”
(A reflexive pronoun isn’t used, so the sentence is about two people)

“She loves herself.”
(A reflexive pronoun is used, so the sentence is about one person)

When are we unable to use reflexive pronouns?

We don’t use reflexive pronouns after these verbs:

concentrate dress feel meet relax shave wash

“I woke up, and shaved.”
(not “… shaved myself.”)

“She feels terrible.”
(not “… feels terrible herself.”)

“When we go home in the afternoon, we relax.”
(not “… we relax ourselves.”)

“After my shower, I dress.”
(you can also say “… get dressed.”)

-selves and each other

Look at these examples:

“My wife and I stood in front of the mirror and looked at ourselves.”
(I looked at myself, she looked at herself.)

“I stood in front of my wife and we looked at each other.”
(I looked at her, she looked at me.)

You can also use one another instead of each other.

“How long have you known each other?”  “How long have you known one another?”

“We don’t like each other.”  “We don’t like one another.”

Other uses of reflexive pronouns

We can also use reflexive pronouns to underline who did, and didn’t, do an action. Also to make the point stronger:

“I fixed the pool myself.”
(I did it, no-one else did.)

“Clean your car?! You can do it yourself!”
(You, not me.)

“The concert itself wasn’t great, but the atmosphere was.”
(Just the concert)

“Brian himself doesn’t think he’ll pass his driving test.”
(A strong statement)