Reflexive Pronouns

What are Reflexive Pronouns ?

Reflexive Pronouns are compound personal pronouns working as object of a verb or a preposition, and referring to the same person or thing as denoted by the subject of the verb (i.e. subject and object of a sentence refer to the same person or thing).

Here action done by the subject turns back (reflects) upon the subject.


He forced him to write it. (‘he’ and ‘him’ refer to different people)
He forced himself to write it. (‘he’ and ‘himself’ refer to the same person)

How Reflexive Pronouns are made ?

Reflexive pronouns are called compound personal pronouns because we get them by adding –self or –selves to possessive case or objective case forms of personal pronouns.

  • The singular forms of reflexive pronouns are got by adding –self, e.g. myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself.

  • The plural forms are made by adding –selves, e.g. ourselves, yourselves, themselves.

I myselves have done it. (incorrect)
I myself have done it. (correct)

Also see this:
one – oneself

The word ‘self’ is sometimes used as a Noun. Basically, when ‘self’ is used alone/independently, it works as a noun only, and not as a pronoun.

She cares for nothing but self.

reflexive pronouns

Sometimes ‘themselves (or themself)’ is used to avoid saying whether the subject is male or female.

It is a very risky situation that these troopers find themselves in.
The first step of helping someone is to help themself.

Though ‘themself’ sounds like a logical singular form of ‘themselves’, and some people have started using it, but you should still avoid it in formal written contexts.

Reflexive Pronouns as Object

A reflexing pronoun is generally used as an object (rather than as a subject).

It may be an object of a verb, or that of a preposition.

He hurt himself. (hurt – verb; himself – direct object of the verb ‘hurt’)

He sent himself a note. (sent – verb; himself – indirect object of the verb ‘sent’)

A house divided against itself cannot stand. (against – preposition; itself – object of the preposition ‘against’)

In the above examples, the reflexive pronouns were referring to the subject. But they may refer to non-subject elements of a sentence too.

He reminds me of myself. (me – direct object of the verb ‘reminds’; myself - referring to the direct object ‘me’)

He sent me a snap of myself. (me – indirect object of the verb ‘sent’; myself - referring to the indirect object ‘me’)

That was a warning from me to myself. (me – object of the preposition ‘from’; myself - referring to the prepositional object ‘me’)

Concept 1

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

Rahul will do the assignment for myself. (incorrect)
Rahul will do the assignment for me. (correct)

Concept 2

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

She started hurting himself. (incorrect; she – female, himself - male)
She started hurting herself. (correct)

Reflexive pronouns as objects of Prepositions

Concept 1

After a preposition of place or position we use a personal pronoun, not a reflexive pronoun:
He put her bat next to him. (not himself)
Monica had the gems with her. (not herself)

Concept 2

Some prepositions are very closely linked to their verbs.
E.g. pleased with, be ashamed of, believe in, care about, do with, hear about, look after, look at, take care of.

In such cases, we use a reflexive pronoun when the subject and object refer to the same thing.
She came out of the exam hall looking pleased with herself. (not her)

Reflexive Pronouns and Verbs

There are some verbs which generally take reflexive pronoun as their object, and some don’t.

Let us study these verbs.

Verbs which take reflexive pronoun as object

There are some verbs which generally take reflexive pronoun as their object.

E.g. We use reflexive pronoun after these verbs - introduce, acquit, avail, reconcile, amuse, resign, avenge, exert, apply, adapt, adjust, pride, absent, present, accustom and enjoy.

They have reconciled themselves to the inevitable doom.

You will have to apply yourself to be more creative in this task.

Some of these verbs, which take a reflexive pronoun as an object, follow a particular pattern.


Avail + Reflexive Pronoun + of

We must learn how to avail of any crisis. (incorrect)
We must learn how to avail ourselves of any crisis. (correct)


Pattern 1: Enjoy + Object + (No use of reflexive pronoun)
Pattern 2: Enjoy + No Object + reflexive pronoun.

Everybody enjoys being with you. (object present, so no need to use reflexive pronoun)

Last night, I enjoyed at the party. (incorrect; no object, so reflexive pronoun needed)
Last night, I enjoyed myself at the party. (correct)

Present / Absent

Present/Absent – if they work as a verb, then we use reflexive pronoun.
Present/Absent – if they work as an adjective, we do not use reflexive pronoun

She absented herself for twenty days. (absented - verb)

The accused has to present himself in court tomorrow. (present - verb)

I guess Mragank is absent today. (absent – adjective, so no reflexive pronoun used; you may have noticed that here ‘absent’ is working as a subject complement.)

Verbs which do not take reflexive pronoun as object

There are some verbs which don’t take reflexive pronouns after them.

E.g. keep, stop, turn, qualify, bathe, move, rest, feel, relax, concentrate, sell, open, hide.

He hid himself inside the closet. (incorrect)
He hid inside the closet. (correct)

You should keep yourself away from bad company. (incorrect)
You should keep away from bad company. (correct)

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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