Reflexive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns add information to a sentence by pointing back to a noun or pronoun near the beginning of the sentence. Reflexive pronouns end in -self or -selves. The English reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves.

Emphatic pronouns also end in -self or -selves, but they just add emphasis to the noun or pronoun.


Reflexive pronouns are used to talk about actions where the subject and object are the same person.

A reflexive pronoun can refer to other things besides the subject of a clause.

Emphatic use

We can use reflexive pronouns as subject or object emphasisers to mean ‘that person/thing and nobody/nothing else’.

Reflexives used instead of personal pronouns

Reflexives are often used instead of personal pronouns after as, like, but (for) and except (for).

Cases where reflexives are not used

Certain verbs are not used with reflexive pronouns in English. Examples are: open, sell, concentrate, feel etc.

Read the following sentences.

When –self is added to my, your, him, her and it and –selves to our, your and them, we get compound personal pronouns. When these pronouns are used as the object of a verb, they are called reflexive pronouns.

Other examples are given below.

Sometimes the reflexive pronoun is used after a preposition.

Note that reflexive pronouns are used only when the subject and object refer to the same person or thing. They are not used in other situations.

Emphatic pronouns

Read the following sentences.

In the sentences given above, the compound personal pronouns are used for the sake of emphasis and hence they are called emphatic pronouns. Emphatic pronouns are usually placed immediately after the noun or pronoun which they emphasize. Sometimes, they follow at a distance.