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3. Reflexive pronouns


1 Introduction

Myself is a reflexive pronoun. In the sentence
I've cut myself, the words I and myself mean
the same thing. Myself refers back to the subject, I.

2 Form

Compare yourself and yourselves.
Emma, you can dry yourself on this towel.

Vicky and Rachel, you can dry yourselves on these towels.

3 The use of reflexive pronouns

Here are some examples.
Mark made himself a sandwich.
Vicky had to force herself to eat.
We've locked ourselves out.
The children watched themselves on video.

We cannot use me, you, him, etc. to refer to the subject. Compare these sentences.
When the policeman came in, the gunman shot him. (him = the policeman)
When the policeman came in, the gunman shot himself. (himself = the gunman)

We can use a reflexive pronoun after a preposition.
The children are old enough to look after themselves.
But after a preposition of place, we can use me, you, him, etc.
In the mirror I saw a lorry behind me. Mike didn't have any money with him.
Laura thought she recognized the woman standing next to her.

4 Idioms with reflexive pronouns

Look at these examples.
We really enjoyed ourselves. (= had a good time)
I hope the children behave themselves. (= behave well)
Just help yourself to sandwiches, won't you? (= take as many as you want)
Please make yourself at home. (= behave as if this was your home)
I don't want to be left here by myself. (= on my own, alone)

5 Verbs without a reflexive pronoun

Some verbs do not usually take a reflexive pronoun, although they may in other languages.
We'd better hurry, or we'll be late. NOT We'd better hurry ourselves.
Shall we meet at the cinema?
I feel uncomfortable.
Just try to relax.

Some of these verbs are: afford, approach, complain, concentrate, decide, feel + adjective, get up, hurry (up), lie down, meet, remember, rest, relax, sit down, stand up, wake up, wonder, worry

We do not normally use a reflexive pronoun with change (clothes), dress and wash.
Daniel washed and changed before going out.
But we can use a reflexive pronoun when the action is difficult.
My friend is disabled, but she can dress herself.

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