Reflexive Pronouns in English Grammar

Introduction

Reflexive pronouns end in -self or -selves. We use them when the subject and object of a verb are the same. There are nine reflexive pronouns in the English language: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, oneself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.

Learn about reflexive pronouns in English grammar with Lingolia’s online grammar rules. In the exercises, you can test your knowledge.

Example

Larry is a small boy, but he can already dress himself.

There is a mirror in his room. He hung it up himself, with a little help from his dad.

He often looks at himself in the mirror and likes talking to himself.

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Usage

We use reflexive pronouns when the subject and the object are the same.

Example:
He often looks at himself in the mirror and likes talking to himself.

The subject and object here are the same person. After all, he could have been looking at someone else and could be proud of someone else.

Example:
He often looks at his dad and likes talking to him.

We also use reflexive pronouns to express that someone did something alone without anyone else’s help.

Example:
Larry is a small boy, but he can already dress himself.
In his room, there is a mirror. Larry hung it up himself.

Reflexive verbs are not very common in the English language. Verbs the are typically reflexive in other languages are not reflexive in English. The following verbs, for example, are not reflexive in English: feel, concentrate, relax, meet.

Example:
Larry feels good. (not: Larry feels himself good.)

There are a few verbs which are usually followed by reflexive pronouns. The most improtant ones are listed in the following table.

VerbExample
behave oneself Behave yourselves at Grandma and Grampa’s house this weekend.
cut oneself Alex cut himself while he was chopping onions for dinner.
dry oneself In the morning I wake up, have a shower, dry myself, get dressed and leave the house.
enjoy oneself Amy enjoyed herself at the party that night.
express oneself Art is the only way I can express myself.
hurt oneself Be careful! I don’t want you to hurt yourself.
introduce oneself Let me introduce myself, my name is Bond – James Bond.

List of reflexive pronouns

singularplural
1st person2nd person3rd person1st person2nd person3rd person
myself yourself himself herself itself ourselves yourselves themselves

To Note

In the singular, the reflexive pronoun is formed with -self, in the plural with -selves.

Example:
I can see myself in the mirror.
We can see ourselves in the mirror.

In the second person, we have to indicate whether we're talking to one person or several people.

Example:
You can be proud of yourself. (one person)
You can be proud of yourselves. (several people)

Info

In English, the reflexive pronouns are not used to indicate a reciprocal relationship. In this case, rather, we use each other.

Example:
We see each other.
(not: We see ourselves.)