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ELC Boston Grammar Lesson – Reflexive Pronouns December 19th, 2013


Wondering why the correct answer for our weekly grammar quiz was choice 3?

I looked in the mirror and I saw myself. I looked good!

Reflexive Pronouns

This type of sentence uses what we call a reflexive pronoun. In English, the reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, oneself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.

Reflexive pronouns are used in english in a few different ways. First, reflexive pronouns are used as the object of a verb or preposition when the subject AND the object are the same thing or person.

For example: Molly went to the refrigerator and got herself a glass of water.

In this sentence, Molly is the subject, and herself is the object of the verb got.

Remember, just like any pronoun, the antecedent (or, the word being replaced by the pronoun) must agree with the pronoun. If your subject is third person singular, your reflexive pronoun must be the same.

For example: The boys painted pictures of themself is incorrect. The correct sentence should read: The boys painted pictures of themselves. This is correct because the boys is a plural subject, and so it the word themselves.

Another way reflexive pronouns are use is for emphasis. In this case, the reflexive pronoun follows a noun or a pronoun, or comes directly at the end of a clause.

For example:         – Are you sure Mr. Smith has received the report?

– Yes. I myself sent the report to Mr. Smith, so I know he has it.

In this sentence, the speaker is emphasizing that they definitely sent the report. They are using the relative pronoun for emphasis.

This sentence could also be written as Yes. I sent the report to Mr. Smith myself, so I know he has it.

Finally, the expression by + reflexive pronoun means “alone”

For example: I went to the movies by myself means I went to the movies alone.

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