reflexive  (adj.) [grammar]: reflecting back on the subject, like a mirror

We use a reflexive pronoun when we want to refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause. Reflexive pronouns end in "-self" (singular) or "-selves" (plural).

There are eight reflexive pronouns:

 reflexive pronoun
, herself, itself

Look at these examples:

the underlined  words are NOT the same person/thing
REFLEXIVE pronouns
the underlined  words are the SAME person/thing
John saw me.I saw myself in the mirror.
Why does he blame you?Why do you blame yourself?
David sent him  a copy.John sent himself a copy.
David sent her  a copy.Mary sent herself a copy.
My dog hurt  the cat.My dog hurt itself.
We blame you.We blame ourselves.
Can you help  my children?Can you help yourselves?
They  cannot look after the babies.They  cannot look after themselves.

Intensive pronouns

Notice that all the above reflexive pronouns can also act as intensive pronouns , but the function and usage are different. An intensive pronoun emphasizesits  antecedent (the earlier word to which it refers). Two important points:

  • We can¬†remove ¬†an intensive pronoun and the sentence still makes sense. (If we remove a reflexive pronoun, the sentence no longer makes sense.)
  • In most cases an intensive pronoun can go¬†before¬†of¬†after ¬†the verb.

Look at these example intensive pronouns:

  1. I made it myself.
    I myself  made it.
  2. Have you yourself  seen it?
    Have you seen it yourself?
  3. The President himself  promised to stop the war.
  4. She spoke to me herself.
    She herself  spoke to me.
  5. The exam itself  wasn't difficult, but the exam room was horrible.
  6. Never mind. We'll do it ourselves.
  7. You yourselves  asked us to do it.
  8. They recommend this book even though they themselves  have never read it.
    They recommend this book even though they have never read it themselves.

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