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Reflexive pronouns - by themselves

Reflexive pronouns are used much less often in English than in other languages. To form them, you just have to use a possessive pronoun or an object pronoun and “self/selves”.

My + self = myself

Your + self = yourself

Him + self = himself

Her + self = herself

It + self = itself

Our + selves = ourselves

Your + selves = yourselves

Them + selves = themselves

When do we use them? Match the use with one of the sentences

(1) With reflexive verbs

(2) After a preposition

(3) To emphasize something

(a) We enjoyed ourselves this summer

(b) I don’t need any help; I’m going to finish it myself

(c) The student bought a notebook for himself with his pocket money.

In other languages there are more reflexive verbs than there are in English. This means that many speakers use reflexive pronouns in English based on their own language:

1. I get myself up, shower myself, shave myself and have breakfast before I leave for work.(*incorrect form)

I get up, shower, shave and have breakfast before I leave for work.

2. She gets herself upset when she isn’t able to do what she wants.(*incorrect form)

She gets upset when she isn’t able to do what she wants.

Complete the mini-quiz with a reflexive pronoun then answer the questions.

Can you name two things you would buy for ................. if you had the money?

Can you think of three professionals who can hurt ........... while doing their jobs?

Can you name an animal that cleans ..............?

Can you think of a professional who rehearses by .................? They can also practice with a group

Can you give two reasons why we shouldn’t wait for the government to solve social problems but try to do something ..................?

Now watch a Mr. Bean video and say if the sentences below are true or false.

  • He lives by himself

  • He has decorated the apartment by himself

  • He is going to celebrate NewYear’s Eve by himself.

  • The front door opens by itself.

  • The vinegar tastes good by itself.

  • His guests are enjoying themselves.

  • The time on the clock suddenly changes by itself.

What would you do or say if you were one of Mr. Bean’s guests?

What is something you like doing by yourself?


Anonymous said…
I would like to be able to fix things by myself.

When I was a kid, I used to break eveything but someone would always fix it for me.
Angela said…
Some idioms and expressions with reflexive pronouns:

Enjoy yourselves! ( said to friends / relations when they are leaving you)
Behave yourselves! ( said to children when they are leaving you)
Help yourself! ( said to a guest when you are offering him/her food or drink or other facilities in your home)
Make yourself at home! ( said when a guest arrives at your
drag yourself = go slowly, creep, crawl, inch, shuffle, shamble, limp along, move at a snail's
pace, advance slowly I managed to drag myself to the surgery

get over yourself
1= a patronising phrase used to tell someone that you believe they hold too high an opinion of themselves, or are behaving in a conceited or pompous manner.
You wouldn't be seen dead in shorts? Please! Get over yourself!

get over yourself
what is said to someone who takes themselves a bit too seriously and is one snotty way to tell someone "chill out already".
Angela said…
Proverbs and sayings with reflexive pronouns:

Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.--Hardy D. Jackson

If you doubt yourself, then indeed you stand on shaky ground. ~Henrik Ibsen

The things we hate about ourselves aren't more real than things we like about ourselves. ~Ellen Goodman

Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself. ~Michel de Montaigne

Just as much as we see in others we have in ourselves. ~William Hazlitt

What a man thinks of himself, that it is which determines, or rather indicates his fate. ~Henry David

The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others. ~Sonya Friedman
Anonymous said…
Are you self-critical ?
Which adjectives from the list would you use to describe yourself?Would you add any other?


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