Wednesday, July 30, 2014

IELTS Grammar Lesson on Reflexive Pronouns

Should we say, I cut me or I cut myself?

Generally speaking, pronouns avoid redundancy of mentioning the same nouns in the sentence. They are used to substitute to names of nouns in constructing a sentence. In the English language, there are different kinds of pronouns and one of the most intriguing pronouns is the reflexive pronouns.

Reflexive pronouns get their name because they are identical with the subject. Meaning to say, reflexive pronouns are commonly used when the object and the subject of the sentence pertains to same noun. Reflexive pronouns are easily identified as they have the suffix –self.­ This basically shows that the doer’s action affects the doer too. Here are some reflexive pronouns and their sample sentence.

- Himself

  • The president cut himself while shaving.
  • He hated himself so much.

- Herself

  • She has not been herself for the past few days since the accident happened.
  • Mrs. Kim wrote herself a note.

- Myself

  • I lost myself in reading the manual.
  • I forgave myself for my mistake.

- Yourself/yourselves

  • You help yourselves with the buffet.
  • You find yourself searching for answers

- Themselves

  • The guests hurt themselves during the performance.
  • The children cannot look after themselves.

- Ourselves

  • We blame ourselves for the accident.
  • We saw ourselves in the mirror.

- Itself

  • The dog hurt itself while eating the bone.
  • The monkey poured itself a glass of milk.

Reflexive pronouns can also be mistaken as intensive pronouns. This is because their forms are the same; however, their uses are totally different. Intensive pronouns are used to give more emphasis to the subject of the sentence.


  • - I can do it myself.
  • - The CEO, himself, discussed the problems with the board.
  • - You, yourself, have to find solutions to your problems.
  • - Anna, herself, cooked dinner for all of us.
  • - We, ourselves, cooked the cake that was served during her engagement party.
  • - The monkey itself poured the milk into the glass.
  • - The boys, themselves, headed the meeting..


  • Anna cut herself while cooking.
  • Anna, herself, cooked the chicken.

In the first sentence, removing herself changes the meaning of the sentence or the sentence’s meaning is incomplete. However, in the second sentence, the removal of herself does not affect the meaning of the sentence. Hence, intensive pronouns are indeed used to show emphasis on the subject of the sentence.

Reflexive pronouns are easy to understand and use. However, make sure you use it properly to avoid committing a grammatical error.