Reflexive pronoun definition: A reflexive pronoun is a type of pronoun that is used when another noun or pronoun does something to itself.
What is a Reflexive Pronoun?
Reflexive pronouns are used when another noun or pronoun does something to itself.
In most sentences, someone or something is doing something to someone or something else.
Reflexive Pronoun Examples:
- Brent hit the ball.
- Here, Brent is hitting something else, the ball.
- Brent hit it.
- Here, Brent is hitting something else, the pronoun “it.”
- Brent hit himself.
- Here, Brent is hitting himself.
In this last example, “himself” is an example of a reflexive pronoun.
Reflexive Pronouns List
Here is a list of reflexive pronouns in English.
Singular Reflexive Pronouns
Plural Reflexive Pronouns
Examples of Reflexive Pronouns
- It is a sport everyone plays, and the best player in the country is a 16-year-old kid who likes going to the movies but can’t drive himself there. –The Washington Post
- Before this week, Collinsworth hasn’t been well-known in golf circles, but she’s certainly making a name for herself at the Women’s State Amateur at Victory Ranch Golf Club. –Deseret News
- If ignored for long time, the clothes will automatically contact charity shops asking to be recycled or offer themselves for auction on eBay. –The Telegraph
Non-Reflexive vs. Reflexive Pronouns
In most sentences, something is done to something else.
- Heather pinched her.
In this example, “her” is a standard pronoun replacing the name of the person that Heather pinched. Heather is doing this action to “her.”
Reflexive pronouns are used when something is done to itself.
- Heather pinched herself.
In this example, “herself” is a reflexive pronoun referring to the subject, Heather. Heather is doing this action to herself.
Intensive Pronouns vs. Reflexive Pronouns
What are Intensive Pronouns? Intensive pronouns look like reflexive pronouns. Intensive pronouns are the same terms as reflexive pronouns. However, intensive pronouns serve a different purpose.
Intensive pronouns, “intensify” a noun or pronoun. They are used for emphasis in a sentence.
- I choose to abstain.
This sentence does not contain a reflexive nor an intensive pronoun. It is simply a statement, saying that I choose to abstain.
- I, myself, choose to abstain.
This sentence includes an intensive pronoun, myself. The intensive pronoun serves to emphasize the pronoun, “I.” Typically, intensive pronouns are pronounced with a particular emphasis.
This sentence would read as though this individual wants to make it loud and clear that he chooses to abstain.
When Not to Use Reflexives
There are certain times a reflexive pronoun should not be used.
After prepositions denoting place:
- Stacy put the bag under
- Not: She put the bag under herself.
- The tree has a nest in
- Not: The tree has a nest in itself.
With “with” when it means “accompanied by:”
- She brought a friend with her.
- Not: She brought a friend with herself.
- He had a suitcase with him.
- Not: He had a suitcase with himself.
NOTE: “Themselfes” and “ourself” are not words. Because of the plural nature of these pronouns, “self” becomes “selves.” Avoid this error.
Fill in the blank with the appropriate reflexive pronoun.
- He poured ___________ a cold drink.
- Samantha accidentally cut ______________.
- They helped _____________ to the buffet.
- We wished ____________ luck on the test.
- The cat cannot feed _____________.
Summary: What are Reflexive Pronouns?
Define reflexive pronoun: The definition of reflexive pronoun is a pronoun formed with the suffix –self or –selves and used to reflect the action of the verb to the subject
- is a specific type of pronoun that does not replace a noun or pronoun
- refers back to the subject
- is used when the subject is doing something to itself