Grammar Patterns

Patterns with reflexive pronouns

Patterns with reflexive pronouns

With many ergative verbs, the noun group following the verb is sometimes a reflexive pronoun. When this is the case, the 'doer' and the 'causer' are the same person or thing. Sometimes this means that there is little difference in meaning between this pattern and the pattern which mentions only the 'doer'. For example, the first two examples below mean almost the same thing, although they have different patterns, but the third example has a different meaning.
The symptoms of the illness manifested ten days later.
The symptoms of the illness manifested themselves ten days later.
She manifested all the symptoms of the illness.
Sometimes, however, the pattern with a reflexive pronoun emphasizes that the Subject of that pattern is the cause of an event and also the person or thing that is affected by it. This is true particularly when the verb involved indicates that a person suffers harm. For example, the first example below suggests that the drowning was an accident, the second example suggests that it was suicide, and the third example suggests that it was murder.
He drowned in the river.
He drowned himself in the river.
She drowned him in the river.
The following verbs often have a reflexive pronoun following the verb.
  • acclimatize
  • assimilate
  • attach
  • beach
  • disengage
  • drown
  • hang
  • manifest
  • overstretch
  • plunge
  • resolve
  • See related content

    English Dictionary
    English Dictionary
    NEW from Collins!
    NEW from Collins!
    English Word Lists
    English Word Lists
    Easy Learning English Grammar
    Easy Learning English Grammar
    Word Lover's Blog
    Word Lover's Blog
    Online Scrabble Checker
    Online Scrabble Checker
    The Paul Noble Method
    The Paul Noble Method
    Create an account and sign in to access this FREE content
    Register now or login in to access