Pronouns: Reflexive

Reflexive pronouns “reflect” the person to whom the pronoun refers.

They are the “self”ish pronouns. With that said, it is easiest to identify them by remembering that they are the pronouns that end with “self” or “selves.”

Reflexive pronouns always act as OBJECTS not subjects, and they require an interaction between the subject or subject(s) and an object. They are typically indirect objects, direct objects and appositives.

  • Because she was not hungry when the cake was served, Ellen saved herself a piece.

In the independent clause, ELLEN is the subject and HERSELF is a reflexive pronoun acting as the indirect object. This sentence is grammatically correct.

  • Wilson and myself are going to the movie.

In this sentence, WILSON and MYSELF are the subjects. REFLEXIVE pronouns cannot be subjects. This sentence is grammatically incorrect.

Care must be taken to identify whether the noun is singular or plural and choose the pronoun accordingly.

Always singular: myself, himself, herself, yourself, itself

  • Adding to the confusion were the politics and sheer tenacity of the man himself.
  • Nor is she shy about giving herself credit for it.
  • “I like to describe myself as the first post-Cold War president,” Clinton said.

Always plural: ourselves, themselves, yourselves

  • We gave ourselves a second chance to complete the course.
  • Did they lock themselves out of the house again?
  • Give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done.

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