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When to use a reflexive pronoun

We use a reflexive pronoun as a direct object when the object is the same as the subject of the verb.
  • I am teaching myself to program my computer.
  • Be careful with that axe. You might hurt yourself.
The reflexive pronouns are:
  • Singular: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself.
  • Plural: ourselves, yourselves, themselves.

With transitive verbs

We can use a reflexive pronoun as direct object with most transitive verbs, here are some of the most common ones used in sentences.
  • I amuse myself.
  • She blamed herself.
  • He cut himself.
  • We dried ourselves with the bath towel.
  • Both the brothers enjoyed themselves at the party,
  • Please help yourself to some more tea.
  • She hurt herself by riding the bicycle with no hands.
  • I will let tonight’s speaker introduce himself.
  • Please do not kill yourself.
  • We prepared the dinner for ourselves,
  • She satisfied herself.
  • You’re here to teach yourself English.
Some verbs change their meaning slightly when they have a reflexive pronoun as direct object.
  • Would you like to help yourself to some more meat?
  • I wish the dogs would behave themselves.
  • He found himself lying by the side of the road.
  • I saw myself as a famous singer.
  • She applied herself to the job of making the costumes.
  • He busied himself around the office.
  • I had to content myself with a few pounds.
We do not use a reflexive pronoun after verbs, which describe the things people usually do for themselves such as wash, shave and dress.
  • He washed himself in bathroom at work.
  • He always shaved himself before work.
  • David dressed himself and got ready for work.
We only use reflexives with these verbs for emphasis.
  • He dressed himself despite having a broken arm.
  • She’s old enough to go to the bathroom herself.
As indirect object when the indirect object is the same as the subject of the verb.
  • Would you like to pour yourself a whiskey?
  • We’ve brought ourselves something to drink.
As the object of a preposition when the object refers to the subject of the clause.
  • They had to fend for themselves.
  • She was feeling very sorry for herself.
Be careful, as we must use personal pronouns, not reflexives, after prepositions of place.
  • He had a knife beside him.
And after with when it means accompanied by.
  • He had a few friends with him.
We use a reflexive pronoun with the preposition by when we want to show that someone did something alone and or without any help.
  • He lived by himself in an enormous house.
  • She drove home by herself.
  • The children got undressed by themselves.
  • I prepared the whole meal by myself.
To emphasize the person or thing we are referring to.
  • Rayleigh itself is quite a small town.
Especially if we are talking about someone very famous.
  • Sir Elton John himself played the final song.
We often put the reflexive pronoun at the end of the clause when we are using it for emphasis.
  • I baked the bread myself.
  • She mended the car herself.
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