Reflexive Pronoun:

We come across situations when the verb done by the subject is experienced by the subject itself. Or we can say, in a sentence, we have the same noun as the subject and the object. Or we can say that the doer and receiver of the action is the same noun. This noun is introduced in the sentence as the subject. But, writing the same noun again at the place of the object will be absurd. So, to avoid this we use reflexive pronouns as objects.

Reflexive pronouns are used as objects in a sentence when we have the same noun as the subject and the object. They can be either direct or indirect objects. Reflexive pronouns are formed by adding -self (singular) or -selves (plural) at the end of certain personal pronouns.

Singular: Myself, Himself, Herself, Itself, Yourself

Plural: Yourselves, Themselves, Ourselves

In the above examples, it is quite clear that using and removing a reflexive pronoun can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Taking the name of the noun as both the subject and the object can make the sentence sound silly.

Let us look at some more examples.

Examples:

  • Rachel saw Rachel in the mirror and was happy with the outfit. (absurd)
  • Rachel saw her in the mirror and was happy with the outfit. (this sentence means that Rachel saw some other person in the mirror.)
  • Rachel saw herself in the mirror and was happy with the outfit. (this is the correct sentence which implies Rachel is both the subject and object. The verb ‘saw’ is done by Rachel and also experienced by Rachel.)

  • Sam cut Sam with a knife. (absurd)
  • Sam cut him with a knife. (this sentence means that Sam has cut some other person.)
  • Sam cut himself with a knife. (this is the correct sentence which implies am is both the subject and object. The verb ‘cut’ is done by Rachel and also experienced by Sam.)

In all the above examples, the reflexive pronouns are the direct objects of the verbs.

Ø Reflexive Pronouns when used as DIRECT OBJECTS of Intransitive verbs converts them into Transitive verbs

Intransitive Verb: Verbs that do not carry an object or do not need an object are known as Intransitive Verbs. They do not pass on the action to anyone or pass it to the subject itself.

Transitive verbs: These verbs have their objects. They pass on the action to a noun which becomes the object of that verb.

In some sentences it is apparent that the verb performed by the subject is experienced by the subject itself. These verbs are intransitive verbs.

To make such sentences more specific reflexive pronouns can be used after the intransitive verbs. But doing so changes these intransitive verbs into transitive verbs. Here are few examples to make it more apparent.

Examples:

  • I and my friends enjoyed a lot at the beach.
  • I and my friends enjoyed ourselves a lot at the beach.

(In first sentence the verb enjoyed is intransitive. It is not carrying a physical object. But it is obvious that the verb has an impact on the subject itself. Thus, we can use a reflexive pronoun after it to make it more specific. Also, enjoyed in second sentence is transitive.)

  • She resigned from the post of project head.
  • She resigned herself from the post of project head.

(Here it is obvious that the verb resigned is experienced by the subject itself though it is not having an object.)

  • My brother adjusted.
  • My brother adjusted himself.

(The first sentence is complete and is giving full meaning. Though the verb adjusted is intransitive. It is clear that the subject is also the receiver of the verb.)

Ø Reflexive Pronouns are indirect objects for Transitive Verbs

Transitive verbs have their objects. They pass on the action to a noun which becomes the object of that verb. Thus, reflexive pronouns cannot be their direct objects. Thus, reflexive pronouns become indirect objects of transitive verbs.

Examples:

  • Madhu gave a treat to celebrate her achievement.
  • Madhu gave herself a treat to celebrate her achievement.

(Subject = Madhu   Verb = gave   Direct Object = treat  Indirect Object = herself)

  • Can we buy a new car?
  • Can we buy ourselves a new car?

(Subject = We  Verb = buy  Direct Object = car  Indirect Object = ourselves)

  • I cooked a delicious meal.
  • I cooked myself a delicious meal.

(Subject = I  Verb = cooked  Direct Object = meal  Indirect Object = myself)

Ø Reflexive Pronouns as objects of Prepositions

Reflexive pronouns can also be objects of certain prepositions. With different prepositions, they give different meanings.

With preposition FOR to show that the subject has done a verb for itself:
  • She was feeling sad for herself.
  • They fought for themselves.
  • My sister has bought this for herself.

With preposition BY to show that the subject has done the verb alone or without any help:
  • The boy did the decoration by himself.
  • Can you do it by yourself?
  • She is old enough to travel by herself.

In general when the subject and object for a verb is same:
  • Sara danced beautiful and Jamey sang well. Jamey was really impressed with her. (her = Sara)
  • Sara danced beautiful and Jamey sang well. Jamey was really impressed with herself. (herself = Jamey)

  • Sara danced beautiful and Jamey sang well. Jamey was really proud of her. (her = Sara)
  • Sara danced beautiful and Jamey sang well. Jamey was really proud of herself. (herself = Jamey)

  • You should believe in yourself for others to believe in you.

Ø Reflexive Pronouns to put Emphasis

Reflexive pronouns are often used to put emphasis on the subject or antecedent and now they are called Emphatic Pronouns. In this case they are put at the end of the sentence.

Examples:

  • I painted this wall myself.
  • You should try this yourself.
  • They organized this event themselves.

Ø Reflexive pronoun ONESELF is used when subject is ONE

At times, we make a general statement or state moral duties. These sentences are meant for everyone. So, in this case we use subject ‘one’ to start the sentence. In this case we can use only reflexive pronoun ‘oneself’ and no other reflexive pronoun.

Examples:

  • One cannot lie to himself. (INCORRECT)
  • One cannot lie to oneself. (CORRECT)

  • One should respect not only others, but also themselves. (INCORRECT)
  • One should respect not only others, but also oneself. (CORRECT)

Oneself can also be used in general sense when there is no definite subject in the sentence. These are sentences of general advice or moral duties.

Examples:

  • It is not good to think only of oneself.
  • Finding oneself is the most important thing.
#KEY-NOTES:
  • Reflexive pronouns are used when the effect of the verb done by the subject is experienced by the subject itself.
  • They are formed by adding -self (singular) or -selves (plural) at the end of certain personal pronouns.
  • English grammar has total nine reflexive pronouns: myself, himself, herself, itself, yourself, oneself, themselves, yourselves and ourselves.
  • They become direct objects for intransitive verbs and indirect objects for transitive verbs.
  • Reflexive pronouns can also be objects of prepositions.
  • When subject is ‘one’ we use only oneself as the reflexive pronoun.

#SUMMARY:
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