When the subject of a sentence is a personal pronoun, a reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject. The reflexive pronoun acts as the object pronoun. By using the reflexive pronoun, we show that the subject of the sentence is the same as the object with the subject acting on itself as expressed by the verb in the sentence.

 

There are altogether eight reflexive pronouns and none of these are used as the subject of a sentence. Each personal pronoun has a corresponding reflexive pronoun which is formed by adding –self to the singular and –selves to the plural pronouns as shown in the following table.

 

 

 

Personal Pronouns

Reflexive Pronouns

 

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

First person

I

We

myself

ourselves

Second person

You

You

yourself

yourselves

Third person

He

They

himself

themselves

 

She

They

herself

themselves

 

It

They

itself

themselves

  

 

Examples:

    • Sometimes I think to myself that it is time to lose some weight.
    • Why do you 

      often talk to yourself but seldom to other people?

    • He helped himself to the drinks and promised not to get drunk.

    • She 

      likes to look at the mirror and smile to

       herself.

    • We do not always make ourselves practise what we preach.
    • One 

      of the dogs spent hours licking itself

      .
    • They spent some time familiarizing themselves with the new workplace.

 

 

The subject and the object are the same person. The antecedent subject pronoun comes first and the reflexive pronoun refers to it. If we don’t use the reflexive pronoun, the meaning changes as shown by this example.

 

Examples:

  • She baked herself a birthday cake.
  • She baked her a birthday cake.
    (The second sentence says she baked a birthday cake for someone else.)

 

 

Besides those in the tables above, there is another reflexive pronoun: oneself.

Examples:

  • One 

    has to improve

     oneself 

    all the time.

    .
  • One 

    shouldn’t expect others to behave in the same way as 

    oneself

    .

     

  • It is important that one thinks positively about oneself
    (Not

     one thinks positively about himself/herself.)

    .

 

 

 .