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Practice with the exercises:
Exercise 1

1. Reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the action of the verb affects the subject of the sentence. In addition, they are also used when we want to emphasize that the subject has performed the action and not someone else.
I cut myself while I was cutting some bread.
(you) Enjoy yourself!

2. The nine reflexive pronouns

To use the correct reflexive pronoun, we must have as a reference the subject and so, the subject pronouns.

Personal pronoun Reflexive pronoun Examples
I Myself I dye my hair myself
You Yourself You have cut yourself! We should visit the doctor
He Himself He's enjoying himself
She Herself She introduced herself to the audience
It Itself The TV has broken by itself
We Ourselves We make ourselves up before going out to the disco
You Yourselves You learned the lesson by yourselves
They Themselves They hurt themselves with a knife

3. How are reflexive pronouns used?

Reflexive pronouns are used:

  • To express that the action of the verb is performed and received by the subject. In this case the reflexive pronoun goes after the main verb.
    They are preparing themselves for the opera.
    Dry yourself quickly, you are completely wet!

    Let's look at the previous examples. The subject in each sentence performs and receives the effect of the action. To be sure about that, we can ask the following questions about the previous sentences.

    They are preparing themselves for the opera.
    Who is preparing for the opera? They are. Who are they preparing for the opera? They are.
    Dry yourself quickly, you are completely wet!
    Who needs drying? Him. Who does he need to dry? Himself.
    Reflexive pronouns in English are not used when the verb expresses everyday actions that we usually do by ourselves (shave, wash, dress, etc.). However, we can use them for emphasis.
    She dressed herself, even though she had a broken arm.
    In this example we emphasize that she dressed with no help.
    My son washed himself for the first time.
    In this example, the boy is old enough to wash without any help.
  • To emphasize that the subject performs the action.

    In this case, unlike the previous one, the subject who performs the action is not the one who receives it. The reflexive pronoun is used to emphasize that the subject is the one who has performed the action and not someone else.

    The reflexive pronoun usually goes either after the personal pronoun or at the end of the sentence.

    The writer himself gave the presentation of his new book.
    I built this kennel myself.
  • By + reflexive pronoun.

    It is used to show that someone performs an action without any help, or that someone is alone.

    She wrote this poem by herself.
    Now I live by myself.
  • In certain expressions:
    English MEANING
    Help yourself Used when you give someone permission to do or use something.
    Make yourself at home Used when someone visits you and you want them to feel relaxed.
    Behave yourself! Used when you want somebody not to do things that could annoy or offend other people.
    Enjoy yourself! Used when you want somebody to have fun.

Remember!

Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject performs the action and is also affected by it. They are also used when we want to emphasize that the subject is the one who does the action and not someone else.

Personal pronoun Reflexive pronoun
I Myself
You Yourself
He Himself
She Herself
It Itself
We Ourselves
You Yourselves
They Themselves

 

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