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Reflexive Pronoun

Reflexive Pronoun

 

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Reflexive pronouns


Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to use the reflexive pronouns. Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object of a sentence are the same person or thing.

In previous lessons, we have learned the subject pronouns "I, you we, they, he, she," and "it". And we have learned the "object pronouns "me, you, us, them, him, her." and "it".   The reflexive pronouns go with the subject pronouns like this:

Singular

"I – myself

you – yourself

he – himself

she – herself

it – itself"

Plural

"we – ourselves

you – yourselves

they – themselves"

We use the reflexive pronouns just the same way that we use other object pronouns. For example, we might say "Jennifer blames herself for losing her ring.",which means: (translate:Jennifer blames herself for losing her ring.)

Compare this to "Jennifer blames David for losing her ring." Or "Jennifer blames him for losing her ring.".   

Let us look at more examples of the reflexive pronouns.  "Yesterday David hit himself with a hammer.". Compare this to "Yesterday David hit a nail with a hammer.".  

"David hurt himself.".Compare this to "David hurt his car.".

"Yesterday Jennifer cut herself with a knife.".Compare this to "Yesterday Jennifer cut the cake with a knife.".

"The cat sees itself in the mirror.".Compare this to "The cat sees a bird through the window.".

"We hurt ourselves in the football game.".Compare this to "We hurt the other guys in the football game.".

"They blame themselves for the accident.". Compare this to "They blame the other driver for the accident.".

"Jennifer helped herself to more potato salad.".Compare this to "Jennifer helped Mr. Smith to the potato salad.".

"We introduced ourselves at the party.". Compare this to "We introduced the Smiths at the party.".

"I see myself as a good person.". Compare this to "I see you as a good person.".

Here are some examples of the reflexive pronouns with verbs which use prepositions.

"We look at ourselves in the mirror."

"I talk to myself when I am driving.

"The cats take care of themselves."

"We look out for ourselves."

When we use the imperative, we use the pronoun "yourself" when we are talking to one person, or "yourselves" when we are talking to more than one person.   

We would say to one person "Do not cut yourself on the broken glass.". Compare that to what we would say to two or more people: "Do not cut yourselves on the broken glass.".

We would say to one person "Do not hurt yourself playing football.". We would say to the whole team: "Do not hurt yourselves playing football.".

We use the expression "by" with a reflexive pronoun to signify that someone does something with no help. For example: The little girl drew this picture by himself.". We could also say "The little boy drew this picture himself." which has almost the same meaning. However, it is very different from the meaning of "The little boy drew this picture of himself.".

Likewise, we could say "David fixed the car by himself." or "David fixed the car himself.". We could say "We do not let children stay home by themselves." which means the same as  "We do not let children stay home alone.".

We sometimes use the expression "yourself" to mean for yourself. For example, on a TV commercial, we might see a product advertised with the expression "Try it yourself." or "Try it for yourself.". "Look at it yourself" or "Look at it for yourself.".

David: Jennifer, did you make this cake by yourself?

Jennifer: Yes, I made it myself.

David: You know I love chocolate cake. This is a meal in itself.

Jennifer: You cannot eat chocolate cake by itself for a meal; it is dessert.

David:  I will get fat.

Jennifer: If you get fat, I will blame myself.

David: Do not blame yourself. I am doing it to myself.

David starts this conversation by asking "Jennifer, did you make this cake by yourself?". He could also have asked "Did you make this cake yourself?" or "Did you make this cake alone?" He could have stressed that he wanted to know if she did it without help by asking "Did you make this cake all by yourself?" or "Did you make this cake all alone?".

Jennifer answers "Yes, I made it myself." She could also have sad "Yes, I made it by myself." or "Yes, I made it alone.". She could have used the short answer "Yes, I did." She could also have stressed that she did it without help by saying "Yes, I made it all by myself." or "Yes, I made it all alone."

David says "You know I love chocolate cake. This is a meal in itself.". The expression "in itself" means with nothing extra. We could use it other ways; for example, we could say "The movie about the U.S. Civil War is a history lesson in itself." or "There are so many problems in the country. There are floods, volcanoes, and financial problems, The financial problem is a disaster in itself.".

Jennifer counters by saying "You cannot eat chocolate cake by itself for a meal; it is dessert."  She could have said "You cannot eat only chocolate cake for a meal; it is dessert." or "You cannot eat just chocolate cake for a meal; it is dessert." or "You cannot eat chocolate cake alone for a meal; it is dessert."

David says "I will get fat." to which Jennifer responds, "If you get fat, I will blame myself." She could say "If you get fat, I will be to blame.".
But David argues "Do not blame yourself. I am doing it to myself." He could have said "You are not to blame. I am doing it alone." or "I am doing it on my own."

Now you can see that the reflexive pronouns are very useful. Listen again as David and Jennifer put them to use in their dialog.

David: Jennifer, did you make this cake by yourself?

Jennifer: Yes, I made it myself.

David: You know I love chocolate cake. This is a meal in itself.

Jennifer: You cannot eat chocolate cake by itself for a meal; it is dessert.

David:  I will get fat.

Jennifer: If you get fat, I will blame myself.

David: Do not blame yourself. I am doing it to myself.

Great! The reflexive pronouns are very useful words. Now that you know how to form sentences with them, integrate them into your conversations in English. "Try them for yourself."