How to use Reflexive pronouns (Learn this grammar w/VIDEO)

In English grammar a reflexive pronoun is:

– a pronoun that is preceded or followed by the noun, adjective, adverb or pronoun to which it refers (it’s antecedent) within the same clause.
English grammar Reflexive pronouns
Myself / Yourself / Himself / Herself / Themselves

Reflexive pronouns are an important part of English grammar. I communicate with people who use English as a second language every day. In Japan, there are a few common English mistakes that (almost) everyone makes. One that I hear a lot is “Please give a self-introduction.”

This is not natural, and native speakers never say this. What they want to say is “Please introduce yourself.”

Please introduce yourself.

In today’s English grammar blog post we will learn how to use words like Myself / Yourself / Himself / Herself etc. in natural English. These words are called reflexive pronouns.

Let’s make reflexive pronouns easy to understand with some simple examples.

A reflexive pronoun ends with ~self or ~selves.

You can probably guess that ~self is for singular pronouns…

Myself / Yourself (1 person) / Himself / Herself / Itself

… and ~selves is for plural pronouns.

Ourselves / Yourselves (2 or more people) / Themselves

English grammar Reflexive pronouns

Learn English grammar Reflexive pronouns

Please look at the following examples –

I just bought an iPad for my daughter to take to school. I saw that a tablet PC is very useful so I also bought one for myself. (I bought an iPad for me)

Being with friends is nice, but sometimes Grace likes to be by herself. (She likes to be alone sometimes)

Look at this drawing! My 7-year-old son drew this himself! He’s going to be a great artist one day! (No one helped my son draw this picture)

A: "Can I have another sandwich?" 
B: "Sure, help yourself."

A: “Can I have another sandwich?”
B: “Sure, help yourself.” (Singular, one person)

Welcome to the party everyone! Please enjoy yourselves. (Plural, many people)

My team didn’t finish the project on time. We didn’t take the job seriously and we have no one to blame but ourselves. (We didn’t complete the project and it’s our fault)

Some people are very selfish and only think about themselves. (They don’t think about other people)

Reflexive pronouns vocabulary note

1 – we can use the phrase themselves when we talk about a situation where the person’s gender (male or female) isn’t known.

English grammar Reflexive pronouns
Who helped themselves to my pie!?

“Someone went into the staff fridge and helped themselves to my cherry pie! I was saving that!” *The gender of the person who took my pie is unknown. It could have been a man or a woman.

2  – we often use the phrase oneself when the person’s gender (male or female) or number (how many people) isn’t known.  We also use oneself if the gender or number of people isn’t important like in the meanings of the expressions below.

Reflexive pronouns Expressions

1 – Do well for oneself

To find success financially and/or success in one’s career.

“Oliver just bought a new condo downtown. Those condos are expensive! He must be doing well for himself these days.” – *Oliver must be having some financial success. He seems to be making a lot of money.

2 – Be oneself again OR

Feel like oneself again [Common]

To return to one’s normal physical or mental health after an illness or break.

“After 2 months in the hospital and 6 weeks of therapy, I finally feel like myself again.” – *I feel like I’m returning to my normal condition after a long stay in the hospital.

3 – Bring it on oneself

To be the cause of one’s own unfortunate situation

A: “Curtis just went to the hospital again for a lung infection.”

B: “His health will get worse if he doesn’t stop smoking. He smokes 3 packs a day so he brings these problems on himself.” – *Curtis is the cause of his health problems because he is a smoker.

4 – laugh or drink oneself silly.

To a state of being so happy and excited that you cannot behave normally {due to laughter} or not being logical or able to think clearly {due to alcohol}

“The movie was hilarious! I laughed myself silly for 90 minutes!” (I laughed a lot)

“You look terrible this morning. I’m not surprised, you drank yourself silly last night at the party. You probably have a bad hangover. Well, you brought it on yourself.

Laugh and drink yourself silly are the most common verbs used in this expression, but other verbs are also possible.

A: Can I use the punching bag hanging in the basement?

B: Sure, punch yourself silly. – Use the punching bag as much as you like.

5 – Can barely hear (oneself) think

Unable to concentrate or think clearly because there is too much noise or commotion around you.

“Kids, can you go outside to play! I can barely hear myself think with all this noise.”

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Write a sentence in the comment section using a reflexive pronoun! How about using an expression from the post? Tell me how you will use this new grammar!

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Reflexive pronouns
Myself / Yourself / Himself / Herself / Themselves

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