In this post, learn everything about the reflexive pronoun. By using reflexive pronouns, we can make our sentences clearer and show that an action is directed back to the person or thing that performs it. Let’s explore reflexive pronouns.
This post includes:
- What is a reflexive pronoun?
- List of reflexive pronouns
- Examples of reflexive pronouns in sentences
- Functions of reflexive pronouns
- Forms of reflexive pronouns
- Common errors with reflexive pronouns
- Exercises to practice reflexive pronouns
What is a reflexive pronoun?
A reflexive pronoun is a particular type of pronoun that we use to refer back to the subject of a sentence. It reflects the action back to the subject, hence the name “reflexive.” It helps us talk about actions that someone does to themselves.
Imagine you have a mirror in front of you. When you look at the mirror, you see your own reflection. Similarly, reflexive pronouns reflect the subject of a sentence back onto itself.
For example, let’s consider the sentence: “John brushed his hair.” In this sentence, if we want to emphasize that John brushed his own hair, we can use a reflexive pronoun. The sentence would then become: “John brushed his hair himself.” Here, the word “himself” is the reflexive pronoun, showing that John performed the action on himself.
Reflexive pronouns can also be used when the subject and the object of a sentence are the same person or thing. For instance, in the sentence “I taught myself to play the guitar,” the reflexive pronoun “myself” shows that the speaker (I) is both the subject and the object of the verb “taught.”
List of Reflexive Pronouns
Here’s a table showing a list of reflexive pronouns:
For the 1st person, when we talk about ourselves, we use “myself” in the singular form and “ourselves” in the plural form. For example, “I saw myself in the mirror” or “We can take care of ourselves.”
For the 2nd person, when we talk about someone we are addressing or referring to, we use “yourself” in the singular form and “yourselves” in the plural form. For example, “Did you hurt yourself?” or “Make sure you all care for yourselves.”
For the 3rd person, when we talk about someone or something other than ourselves, we use “himself,” “herself,” or “itself” in the singular form, and “themselves” in the plural form. For example, “She cut herself while cooking,” “The cat is cleaning itself,” or “They enjoyed themselves at the party.”
Examples of reflexive pronouns in sentences
Here are some examples with explanations:
I brushed my hair myself.
In this sentence, “myself” emphasizes that the subject, “I,” performed the action of brushing the hair on their own.
Be careful not to cut yourself with the knife.
Here, “yourself” is used to indicate that the subject (you) should be cautious to avoid injuring themselves with the knife.
She told herself that everything would be fine.
In this sentence, “herself” shows that the subject (she) is both the speaker and the listener. She reassured or convinced herself that everything would turn out alright.
The dog is licking itself.
In this sentence, “itself” indicates that the dog is performing the action of licking its own body.
We taught ourselves how to swim.
Here, “ourselves” emphasizes that the subject (we) learned the skill of swimming without external help or instruction.
They should be proud of themselves for their achievements.
In this sentence, “themselves” highlights that the subject (they) should feel a sense of pride for their accomplishments.
He locked himself out of the house.
Here, “himself” suggests that the subject (he) accidentally locked the door, preventing his own entry into the house.
The students challenged themselves to solve the difficult puzzle.
In this sentence, “themselves” shows that the students set a personal challenge to solve the challenging puzzle without assistance.
Functions of reflexive pronouns
Reflexive pronouns serve several functions in sentences. Here are the main functions explained:
1. Reflexive Actions: Reflexive pronouns are used to show that the subject of the sentence is performing an action on themselves. It highlights that the subject is both the doer and the receiver of the action. For example, “I washed myself” means that I performed the action of washing my own body.
2. Emphasizing the Subject: Reflexive pronouns are also used to emphasize or draw attention to the subject of the sentence. By using a reflexive pronoun, we highlight that the subject is taking a particular action or experiencing something personally. For instance, “She herself completed the project” emphasizes that she personally completed the project without any help.
3. Reciprocal Actions: Reflexive pronouns can indicate actions that individuals do to each other or among themselves. When two or more people are involved in a reciprocal action, reflexive pronouns are used. For example, “They hugged each other” means that both individuals hugged one another.
4. Indirect Reflexive Pronouns: Reflexive pronouns can also be used indirectly to refer to the same person or thing mentioned earlier in the sentence. This usage avoids repetition of the noun or pronoun. For instance, “John is proud of himself” indirectly refers back to John without repeating his name.
In summary, the functions of reflexive pronouns include showing actions done to oneself, emphasizing the subject’s personal involvement, indicating reciprocal actions between individuals, and indirectly referring to the same person or thing mentioned earlier. By understanding these functions, you can use reflexive pronouns effectively to express different meanings and add clarity to your sentences.
Forms of reflexive pronouns
Reflexive pronouns come in different forms depending on the number and person (singular or plural) they are referring to.
1. Singular Reflexive Pronouns:
- Myself: This form is used when you are talking about yourself. For example, “I can do it myself.”
- Yourself: This form is used when you are talking to someone directly or referring to someone informally. For example, “Be proud of yourself.”
- Himself/Herself/Itself: These forms are used when you are talking about a third person (he, she, or it) and want to emphasize that they are performing an action on themselves. For example, “She hurt herself while playing.”
2. Plural Reflexive Pronouns:
- Ourselves: This form is used when you are talking about a group of people that includes yourself. For example, “We organized the event ourselves.”
- Yourselves: This form is used when you are addressing a group of people directly or referring to them informally. For example, “Take care of yourselves.”
- Themselves: This form is used when you are talking about a group of people (they) and want to emphasize that they are performing an action on themselves. For example, “They enjoyed themselves at the party.”
Common errors with reflexive pronouns
Here are some common errors with reflexive pronouns explained:
1. Using the wrong reflexive pronoun:
One common error is using the wrong reflexive pronoun that doesn’t match the subject. For example, saying “He hurt hisself” instead of “He hurt himself.” The correct reflexive pronoun should match the subject in both number and gender.
2. Confusing reflexive pronouns with personal pronouns:
Another error is using personal pronouns instead of reflexive pronouns when self-action is involved. For instance, saying “She dressed her” instead of “She dressed herself.” The reflexive pronoun emphasizes that the subject is both the doer and the receiver of the action.
3. Using reflexive pronouns unnecessarily:
Sometimes, reflexive pronouns are used when they are not needed, leading to incorrect sentences. For example, saying “I made it by myself myself” instead of “I made it by myself.” The second “myself” is redundant and should be removed.
4. Incorrect pronoun-antecedent agreement:
Another error is when the reflexive pronoun does not agree in number or person with its antecedent (the noun it refers back to). For example, saying “They hurt himself” instead of “They hurt themselves.” The reflexive pronoun should match the antecedent in both number and person.
5. Omitting reflexive pronouns when they are needed:
Sometimes, reflexive pronouns are omitted when they are necessary for clarity or to indicate self-action. For example, saying “She hurt during the game” instead of “She hurt herself during the game.” Including the reflexive pronoun clarifies that she hurt herself, not someone else.
Exercises to practice reflexive pronouns
Here are a few exercises to practice using reflexive pronouns:
Exercise 1: Fill in the blank with the appropriate reflexive pronoun.
- She cut __________ while preparing dinner.
- We completed the project _________.
- He bought a present for ___________.
- They enjoyed __________ at the amusement park.
- I remind __________ to study every day.
Exercise 2: Rewrite the sentence using a reflexive pronoun to emphasize self-action.
- “John helped John’s sister with her homework.”
Rewritten: “John helped __________ with __________ homework.”
- “The cat cleaned the cat’s fur.”
Rewritten: “The cat cleaned __________ fur.”
“She prepared the meal herself.”
Rewritten: “She prepared __________.”
Exercise 3: Identify the error in the following sentences and correct them.
- “They hurt theirselves during the game.”
- “He gave the gift to myself.”
- “We enjoyed ourself at the party.”
- “John helped himself with his sister’s homework.”
- “The cat cleaned its own fur.”
- “She prepared the meal herself.”
- “They hurt themselves during the game.”
- “He gave the gift to me.”
- “We enjoyed ourselves at the party.”
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about reflexive pronouns:
A reflexive pronoun is a type of pronoun that reflects back to the subject of the sentence. It indicates that the subject is performing an action on themselves or has a relationship with themselves.
Reflexive pronouns specifically indicate that the subject is both the doer and the receiver of the action, whereas other pronouns simply refer to a person, thing, or group.
Reflexive pronouns are commonly used with reflexive verbs, which are actions that the subject performs on themselves. However, they can also be used with non-reflexive verbs to emphasize self-action or personal involvement.
Reflexive pronouns can be used as the direct or indirect object of a verb, after prepositions, or to emphasize the subject’s personal involvement. They can also indicate reciprocal actions or avoid repetition of the subject.
Yes, reflexive pronouns have singular forms (e.g., “myself,” “yourself,” “himself”) and plural forms (e.g., “ourselves,” “yourselves,” “themselves”) to match the number of the subject.
Yes, reflexive pronouns can be used in all tenses of a sentence. They are not restricted to a specific tense.
The purpose of using reflexive pronouns is to indicate actions done to oneself, emphasize personal involvement, show reciprocal actions, and avoid repetition of the subject.
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