We use a reflexive pronoun when we want to refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause. Reflexive pronouns end in “-self” (singular) or “-selves” (plural).
There are eight reflexive pronouns:
himself, herself, itself
Look at these examples:
|the underlined words are NOT the same person/thing||the underlined words are the SAME person/thing|
|John saw me.||I saw myself in the mirror.|
|Why does he blame you?||Why do you blame yourself?|
|David sent him a copy.||John sent himself a copy.|
|David sent her a copy.||Mary sent herself a copy.|
|My dog hurt the cat.||My dog hurt itself.|
|We blame you.||We blame ourselves.|
|Can you help my children?||Can you help yourselves?|
|They cannot look after the babies.||They cannot look after themselves.|
Notice that all the above reflexive pronouns can also act as intensive pronouns, but the function and usage are different. An intensive pronoun emphasizes its antecedent. Look at these examples:
- I made it myself. OR I myself made it.
- Have you yourself seen it? OR Have you seen it yourself?
- The President himself promised to stop the war.
- She spoke to me herself. OR She herself spoke to me.
- The exam itself wasn’t difficult, but exam room was horrible.
- Never mind. We’ll do it ourselves.
- You yourselves asked us to do it.
- They recommend this book even though they themselves have never read it. OR They recommend this book even though they have never read it themselves.