Pronoun Review #1: Reflexive Pronouns
The English reflexive pronouns are:
Singular: myself, yourself, himself/herself/itself
Plural: ourselves, yourselves, themselves
They are called “reflexive” because they reflect or restate another noun or pronoun that has already been stated. (In the case of an imperative sentence, the pronoun You is understood: “[You] Watch yourself on the ice!”)
Reflexive pronouns are used as direct and indirect objects when the object is the same as the subject of the verb:
I hurt myself when I fell. (direct object of hurt; restates the subject I.)
You must tell yourself not to forget her birthday. (indirect object of “must tell”; restates the subject You.)
Tell yourself not to forget. (indirect object of “must tell”; restates the understood subject [You])
George cut himself with a paring knife. (direct object of cut; restates the subject George)
Note: Ordinarily, reflexive pronouns are not needed after verbs that describe things that people usually do for themselves, such as dress, shave, and wash. For example, it is not incorrect to say, “The hermit washes himself in the creek,” but it is sufficient to say, “The hermit washes in the creek.” With this type of verb, the reflexive pronoun is used for emphasis: “She’s only four years old, but she dresses herself.”
A reflexive pronoun can function as the object of a prepositions:
The dog barked at itself in the mirror. (object of the preposition at)
Although it would affect all of us, Charlie and Cho discussed the matter between themselves. (object of the preposition between)
Note: The preposition by followed by a reflexive pronoun shows that the doer or doers did something without additional help:
My mother hung the drapes by herself.
The children built a compost pile by themselves.
Finally, reflexive pronouns are used to emphasize a person or thing being referred to:
The king himself thanked the courageous peasant.
The hat itself was the clue.
A common error with reflexive pronouns is to use a reflexive pronoun in place of a personal pronoun:
Incorrect: Charlie and myself attended the conference last year.
Correct : Charlie and I attended the conference last year.
Reflexive pronouns are frequently used with the following verbs:
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