What is a reflexive pronoun?

A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun ending in -self or -selves. A reflexive pronoun is used when the subject and an object in a sentence are the same.  Reflexive pronouns reflect back (or refer back) to the subject of a sentence.

There are singular and plural reflexive pronouns.  Singular possessive pronouns are: myself, yourself, himself, herself and itself.  Plural possessive pronouns are: ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.

1st Person Singular

  • I love myself.

2nd Person Singular

  • You love yourself.

3rd Person Singular

  • He loves himself.
  • She loves herself.
  • It loves itself.

1st Person Plural

  • We love ourselves.

2nd Person Plural

  • You love yourselves.

3rd Person Plural

  • They love themselves.

Can an object pronoun be used in place of reflexive pronouns?

No, you can not use an object pronoun instead of a reflexive pronoun.  If the object  of a of the verb is the same person or thing as the subject noun/pronoun, we use a reflexive pronoun as the object.

Incorrect Sentence

  1. I could see me visiting California.
  2. You must push you to do more work.
  3. He cut him with a knife.   (he/him: different people)
  4. She kept her out of trouble. (she/her: different people)
  5. The cat saw it in the mirror.  (cat/it: different things)
  6. We will show us out.
  7. They weighed them on the scales.

Correct Sentence with Reflexive Pronoun

  1. I could see myself visiting California.
  2. You must push yourself to do more work.
  3. He cut himself with a knife.
  4. She kept herself out of trouble.
  5. The cat saw itself in the mirror.
  6. We will show ourselves out.
  7. They weighed themselves on the scales.

What are different examples of reflexive pronouns in sentences?

In the below examples reflexive pronouns are used as an indirect object and and object of a preposition. The examples on the left and right are both correct and mean the same thing.

Reflexive Pronoun as Indirect Object

  1. I bought myself a new camera.
  2. You taught yourself a new language.
  3. He packed himself a lunch.
  4. She made herself a hammock.
  5. The dog threw itself the ball.
  6. We kept ourselves company.
  7. They did themselves a favor by leaving early.

Reflexive Pronoun as Object of Preposition

  1. I bought a new camera for myself.
  2. You taught a new language to yourself.
  3. He packed a lunch for himself.
  4. She made a hammock for herself.
  5. The dog threw the ball to itself.
  6. We kept company with ourselves.
  7. They did a favor for themselves by leaving early.

How are reflexive pronouns used to emphasize an answer to a question?

Notice in these examples below that removing the reflexive pronoun or prepositional phrase with the reflexive pronoun does not change the meaning of the sentence.  Rather, the insertion of the reflexive pronoun emphasizes the identity of the subject.


  1. Whose going to fix your flat tire?
  2. Can you help me with my homework?
  3. Did Dan go on a hike in the desert?
  4. Did you help Ellen with the desk?
  5. Can you help me with this problem?
  6. Should we tell them what to do?
  7. What did they decide to do?


  1. I will fix it myself.
  2. No, you should do it yourself.
  3. Yes, he wanted to go by himself.
  4. No, Ellen put the desk together herself.
  5. No, the problem will work itself out.
  6. No, let’s keep ourselves out of their affairs.
  7. They decided to go to Alaska by themselves.

Basic ESL Workbooks

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Lessons 16-30 Buy
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Lessons 31-45 Buy