Reflexive PronounsThe reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. These words can be either reflexive pronouns or emphatic pronouns. This entry is about their use as reflexive pronouns. A reflexive pronoun is used with another noun (or pronoun) to show when people (or things) do things to themselves.
Easy Examples of Reflexive Pronouns
- I like myself.
- He spoke to himself.
- She taught herself.
- The dog bit itself.
- I like him.
- He spoke to her.
- She taught him.
- The dog bit her.
Real-Life Examples of Reflexive PronounsUsing a reflexive pronoun means you do not have to repeat the subject (shown here in bold). (Repeating the subject would be clumsy.)
- Alison does not trust herself. (Writing "Alison does not trust Alison" would be clumsy.)
- The members argued amongst themselves for an hour.
- We often ask ourselves why we left London.
- I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. (Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw)
- If the world blew itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can't be done. (Actor Peter Ustinov)
- The ability to delude yourself may be an important survival tool. (American writer Jane Wagner) (Here's the sentence again with the implied subject included: "The ability [of you] to delude yourself may be an important survival tool.")
- Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think. (Danish physicist Niels Bohr) (Here it is again with the implied subject included: "[You should] never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.")
- He did it to myself. [wrong]
- I did it to myself.
- He did it to himself.
- He insulted the doctor and myself. [wrong]
- Please pass any comments to the director or myself. [wrong] (This example has an implied subject. Please [will you] pass any comments to the direct or myself. Remember, you cannot be the antecedent of myself. Only I can be the antecedent of myself.)
- He insulted the doctor and me. [correct] but a little awkward sounding
- Please pass any comments to the director or me. [correct] but a little awkward sounding
- He insulted the me and the doctor. [correct] and nicer on the ear
- Please pass any comments to me or the director. [correct] and nicer on the ear
- I hate myself.
- I asked myself a question.
- I did it myself. (Here, myself is an emphatic pronoun (i.e., one used for emphasis) and not a reflexive pronoun (i.e., one used to reflect back on the subject), but the "bottom line" rule still applies. See the section on emphatic pronouns)
- Myself and yourself are not highbrow alternatives for me and you.
- Hiself and hisself are not words. Use himself.
Why Should I Care about Reflexive Pronouns?The most common mistake involving reflexive pronouns is using one when the subject of the verb is not doing something to itself. For example:
Here's the bottom line, you can only use the word myself when the subject is I.