Emphatic Pronouns

What are Emphatic Pronouns?

Just like reflexive pronouns, they are also compound personal pronouns, but they are used for the sake of emphasis.

The same words that work as reflexive pronouns, can work as emphatic pronouns too, e.g. myself, himself, herself, yourself, themselves, itself.

She herself closed the gate.
The pond itself is not very large.

Concept 1

Emphatic pronoun cannot be used as a subject or an object of a sentence, unless a noun/pronoun (that it is referring to) comes before it.

Himself will go to the doctor. (incorrect)
He himself will go to the doctor. (correct; A pronoun ‘He’ comes before ‘himself’)

Themselves managed the ship. (incorrect)
They themselves managed the ship. (correct)

Aanya and herself are doctors. (incorrect)
Aanya and she are doctors. (correct)

This is also valid for reflexive pronouns. However, unlike emphatic pronouns, reflexive pronouns cannot function as a subject (neither alone, nor as part of a subject phrase).

Concept 2

No matter how it functions in a sentence, an emphatic pronoun must be in agreement with the noun or pronoun, that it is used to refer to.

The boys himself went out to play. (incorrect; boys – plural, himself - singular)
The boys themselves went out to play. (correct)

She completed the project himself. (incorrect; she – female, himself - male)
She completed the project herself. (correct)

Concept 3

An emphatic pronoun can be used to emphasise the subject as well as the object.

Emphasising the Subject

When an emphatic pronoun emphasizes a subject, we have positional mobility. (i.e. we can move its position)

She herself cooks the food. (herself – emphasizing the subject ‘she’; it comes just after the subject)

She came herself. (herself – emphasizing the subject ‘she’; it comes after an intransitive verb ‘came’)

We made it ourselves. (ourselves – emphasizing the subject ‘we’; it comes after a transitive verb ‘made’ and its object ‘it’)

She cooks the food herself. (herself – emphasizing the subject ‘she’; it comes after a transitive verb ‘cooks’ and its object ‘food’)

Emphasising the Object

But when an emphatic pronoun emphasizes an object, we will put emphatic pronoun just after the object only.

I met Aanya herself. (correct; Aanya – object; herself – emphasizing the object)




Differences between Reflexive Pronoun and Emphatic Pronoun

Difference 1

While a reflexive pronoun reflects the action of the subject upon the subject itself, an emphatic pronoun just emphasizes the action of the subject.

A reflexive pronoun answers the question : whom ?

He cut himself. [himself - reflexive pronoun, since the subject’s (i.e. the boy’s) action of cutting refers back to the subject/doer (i.e. the boy); cut whom? - himself]

He himself cut the tree. [himself - emphatic pronoun, as it is just emphasizing the action of cutting done by the subject (i.e. the boy)]

In laymen’s terms, we can say that, when reflexive pronoun is used to emphasize something (i.e. noun or other pronoun) then we call it emphatic pronoun.

Difference 2

We can drop an emphatic pronoun from the sentence, without affecting the meaning of the sentence. That’s because emphatic pronouns do not add much meaning. They just emphasize the action.

On the other hand, if we drop a reflexive pronoun, the sentence won’t make any sense; it’s meaning would be lost.

Compare:

He himself cut the tree. (himself - emphatic pronoun; we can drop it)
He cut the cake.

He cut himself. (himself - reflexive pronoun; we cannot drop it)
He cut. (cut what? … doesn’t make any sense)

Difference 3

Unlike reflexive pronouns (that are always used as object of a verb/preposition), emphatic pronouns can be a part of subject or part of an object.

I myself heard him say that. (I myself – subject)

We can also write the above sentence as follows:
I heard him say that myself. (I myself – subject)

It was told so by the professor himself. (professor himself – object of the preposition ‘by’)

Reflexive pronouns cannot work as a subject (neither alone, nor as part of a subject phrase).

Extra Books and Tools



Though the matter on our website is in-depth and comprehensive enough for the demands of most of the aptitude exams, but it may feel daunting for the same reasons. Moreover, some learners prefer paperback books over websites.

So, if you are a beginner level English learner, and prefer books, you may explore the following English Grammar books too.


1. Wren & Martin - This book has been around for long and is still considered one of the best. Though many concepts have not been dealt with in much depth here, but beginners may find it a breeze to read. Once you are done with it, the content on our website will work as a rich add-on. If you are getting this book, make sure you get the key to its exercises too.

Links for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries:

High School English Grammar and Composition Paperback

Key to Wren and Martin

Link for Indian readers: Wren and Martin


2. More advanced learners may refer to the following books. However, buy them only if you must. Most of your English Grammar learning needs will easily be met by our website.

A. Essential English Grammar by Raymond Murphy

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: Essential Grammar in Use - with Answers

Link for Indian readers: Essential English Grammar

B. Intermediate English Grammar by Raymond Murphy

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: English Grammar in Use - with Answers

Link for Indian readers: Intermediate English Grammar

C. Advanced English Grammar by Martin Hewings

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries: Advanced Grammar in Use - with Answers

Link for Indian readers: Advanced English Grammar


So much so for Englsh Grammar. But what about Comprehension skills and Vocabulary?

We strongly believe that Comprehension skills and Vocabulary are more a matter of practice. The more you read, the better you will become in them. In fact, this will help you in Grammar too. Afterall Grammar rules are just in the nature of temporary scaffholding - the goal is to read, write and speak a language without consciously remembering even a single Grammar rule.

So, we suggest you to read vividly. Ideally, carry some tool with you that you may refer so as to learn the meaning of any word that is new to you. There are many ways you may go about it.

* The old method: Carry a good dictionary with you. But who does?

* Download a Thesauraus app on your mobile or just google it. Better, but we still need to stop reading, open the app, type and then search. Boring!

The methods mentioned above kill the joy of reading. Who wants to stop reading in the midst of an interesting plot and look for the meaning of a word? And if you are a lazy soul like me, Oh man! No chance!

That's why I prefer to read on gadgets like Kindle. We may just tap on any word and see its meaning there and then. It's also not taxing on the eyes.

Link for readers from USA, UK, Canada, and other countries:

Link for Indian readers:

There are a multitude of Kindle models and versions available. So, you may have to do some research on your own regarding which model serves your need the best. Though, any model will meet our basic reading needs.

If you guys know about any more such books, gadgets and technologies that are awesome and may help English learners, do share 😇
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