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Reflexive pronouns vs. Intensive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns vs. Intensive pronouns
Reflexive pronouns vs. Intensive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns vs. Intensive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns

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

There are eight reflexive pronouns:

Reflexive pronoun
Singular Myself, Yourself, Himself, Herself and itself
Plural Ourselves, Yourselves, Themselves

Look at these examples:

Reflexive pronouns
The underlined words are NOT the same person/thing 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 emphasizes its antecedent. Look at these examples:

  • I made it myselfORmyself made it.
  • Have you yourself seen it? OR Have you seen it yourself?
  • The President himself promised to stop the war.
  • She spoke to me herselfOR She herself spoke to me.
  • The exam itself wasn’t difficult, but exam room was horrible.
  • Never mind. We’ll do it ourselves.
  • You yourselves asked us to do it.
  • They recommend this book even though they themselves have never read it. OR 
  • They recommend this book even though they have never read it themselves.

Note:       by + Reflexive pronoun means alone.


  • I went to the USA by myself.        
  • She lives by herself.

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