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Reflexive pronouns - Easy Learning Grammar

Reflexive pronouns are used:
3rd masculine
3rd feminine
3rd neuter
  • when the speaker or writer is referring to an action that he or she has caused to happen and of which he or she is also the object.
  • I cut myself with the carving knife.
  • Sometimes I just don’t like myself very much.
  • when the direct object or prepositional object of a sentence has the same reference as the subject.
  • John looked at her.
  • John looked at himself.
  • John taught himself to play the guitar.
The reflexive form oneself can be used to refer to people in general.
  • The first golden rule is not to take oneself too seriously.
It can also be used as a substitute for the 1st person singular. If it is used like this, the subject pronoun should be one. In normal direct speech this usage is often felt to be rather pretentious.
  • One asks oneself whether it is worth the bother.
  • One owes it to oneself to do something worthwhile.
Some verbs take a reflexive pronoun only in particular uses of the verb.
  • Jeremy introduced himself.
  • The cat washed itself.
The reflexive pronoun can be left out if it is obvious that the subject was performing the action of the verb on him- or herself.
  • Jeremy washed and dressed, then went out.
When a preposition is followed by a pronoun, the pronoun is normally in the object form.
  • They all looked at him in silence.
If that pronoun refers to the subject of the main verb, however, it must be a reflexive pronoun.
  • She looked at herself in the mirror.
  • The reflexive can be used to make something you say stronger. To make a strong point, we sometimes use a normal subject or object pronoun and a reflexive pronoun as well.
  • He told me himself that he was leaving.
  • I’ll do it myself.
  • The reflexive can also be used with or without by meaning ‘alone’ or ‘without help’.
  • I think you should try and do it yourself.
  • Did she do that all by herself?
The compound pronouns each other and one another are not true reflexives. They are used when two or more subjects mutually take part in an action. They are sometimes called reciprocals.
  • They should stop blaming one another.
  • We will always love each other.

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