Reflexive pronouns are very similar in style and form to personal pronouns but they are technically not personal pronouns. They are formed by adding “-self” (singular) or “-selves” (plural) to the end of my, your, our, him, her, it or them (as well as the indefinite pronoun one).

Reflexive Pronoun’s Formation

Pronoun Add Reflexive Pronoun

Reflexive pronouns are used when someone or something is both the subject and the object of the same verb—that is, both that which is performing the action of the verb and that which is receiving the action.

When this happens, the reflexive verb is used as the object of the verb to represent the person or thing.

For example:

  • “I heard myself speaking,”
  • “I saw myself in the mirror.”
  • “She imagined herself on a tropical beach.”
  • “They consider themselves to be above the law.”
  • “One should not concern oneself with the business of others.”

For example, in the sentence “I heard myself speaking,” the speaker (“I”) is both the subject of the verb “heard” and its object (what was heard), and thus is represented by the reflexive noun “myself.”

Sometimes reflexive pronouns are called intensive or emphatic pronouns when they are used to intensify or emphasize or reiterate the subject’s role in the verb’s action.

For instance:

  • “I checked over these documents myself.”
  • “The president himself will be in attendance.”

list of reflexive pronouns

How to use reflexive pronouns

1. As an object

When the Subject and the Object in a sentence refer to the same person or thing, we use a reflexive pronoun. Reflexive pronouns always agree with the subject of the sentence. They can be  a direct or indirect object.

  • She bought a present for herself.
  • I enjoyed myself at the concert.
  • I cut myself shaving this morning.
  • She cooked herself a quiche.
  • We taught ourselves French.
  • I suddenly saw myself in the mirror.
  • My uncle cut himself with a sharp knife.
  • She considers herself lucky.

2. To emphasize the subject

We can use reflexive pronouns to emphasize the subject. In these cases, the word is not a true reflexive. 

  • I prepared it myself.
  • You will finish the project yourselves.
  • It’s quicker if you do it yourself.
  • I cleaned the whole house myself.

3. By + reflexive pronoun

By myself/yourself, etc means ‘alone, without company’ or ‘without help’.

  • I made this cake by myself.
  • Do your homework by yourself.
  • I often like to spend time by myself.
  • We built this house by ourselves.

4. Use of Oneself

One is an indefinite subjective pronoun. Oneself is an indefinite reflexive pronoun.They are used for making general statements.

  • One should wash oneself.
  • One should take care of oneself.


When not to use reflexive pronouns

1. As a subject

Reflexive pronouns do not function as a subject, they are used as an object.

  • Incorrect: Amira and myself are going to the park.

In this sentence, Amira and myself are the subjects. Reflexive pronouns cannot be subjects. the correct sentence is:

Amira and I are going to the park.

2. After certain verbs

Reflexive pronouns are not used after feel, meet, concentrate and relax, and they are not usually used after wash, shave and dress, unless it is necessary to make it clear who does the action.

He cannot relax – correct
He cannot relax himself – incorrect

After I got up, I washed – correct
After I got up, I washed myself – incorrect

3. In a possessive case

There are no possessive reflexives. Instead, we use my own, your own, his own, our own etc.

  • I always wash my own clothes. ( not myself’s clothes)
  • The children have both got their own rooms.( not themselves’ rooms)