Languages › English as a Second Language Reflexive Pronouns in English Share Flipboard Email Print Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images English as a Second Language Grammar Pronunciation & Conversation Vocabulary Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Business English Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated March 17, 2019 Reflexive pronouns are used much less often in English than in other languages. This explanation provides an overview of reflexive pronoun use in English with explanations and examples. English Reflexive Pronouns Here is an overview of reflexive pronouns matched with subject pronouns. I: myselfyou: yourselfhe: himselfshe: herselfit: itselfwe: ourselvesyou: yourselvesthey: themselves The reflexive pronoun "oneself" is used when speaking in general about a situation. An alternate form is to use the reflexive pronoun "yourself" to speak about people in general: One can hurt oneself on those nails over there, so be careful!You can enjoy yourself by simply taking the time to relax. Reflexive Pronoun Use Explained Use reflexive pronouns when the subject and the object are the same with reflexive verbs: I enjoyed myself when I was in Canada.She hurt herself in the garden. Here is a list of some of the most common reflexive verbs in English: to enjoy oneself: I enjoyed myself last summer.to hurt oneself: She hurt herself playing baseball last week.to kill oneself: Killing oneself is considered a sin in many cultures.to market oneself as something: He's trying to market himself as a consultant.to convince oneself: Peter tried to convince himself to move on with his life.to deny oneself: It's a bad idea to deny oneself the occasional scoop of ice-cream. to encourage oneself: We encourage ourselves to learn something new every week.to pay oneself: Sharon pays herself $5,000 a month.to make oneself something: George makes himself a sandwich. Reflexive Verbs That Change Meaning Some verbs change their meaning slightly when they are used with reflexive pronouns. Here is a list of some of the most common verbs with changes in meaning: to amuse oneself = to have fun aloneto apply oneself = to try hardto content oneself = to be happy with a limited amount of somethingto behave oneself = to act properlyto find oneself = to learn about and understand yourselfto help oneself = to not ask for help from othersto see oneself as something/someone = to think about yourself in a specific manner Examples She amused herself by playing cards on the train. They helped themselves to the food on the table. I'll behave myself at the party. I promise! As an Object of a Preposition Referring to Subject Reflexive verbs are also used as the object of a preposition in order to refer back to the subject: Tom bought a motorcycle for himself.They purchased a round trip ticket to New York for themselves.We made everything in this room by ourselves.Jackie took a weekend holiday to be by herself. To Emphasize Something Reflexive pronouns are also used to emphasize something when someone insists on doing something on their own rather than relying on someone else: No, I want to finish it myself! = I don't want anyone helping me.She insists on talking to the doctor herself. = She didn't want anyone else talking to the doctor. Frank tends to eat everything himself. = He doesn't let the other dogs get any food. As the Agent of an Action Reflexive pronouns are also used following the prepositional phrase "all by" to express the subject did something on their own: He drove to school all by himself.My friend learned to invest in the stock market all by herself.I chose my clothing all by myself. Problem Areas Many languages such as Italian, French, Spanish, German, and Russian often use verb forms which employ reflexive pronouns. Here are some examples: alzarsi: Italian / get upcambiarsi: Italian / change clothessich anziehen: German / get dressedsich erholen: German / get betterse baigner: French / to bathe, swimse doucher: French / to shower In English, reflexive verbs are much less common. Sometimes students make the mistake of translating directly from their native language and adding a reflexive pronoun when not necessary. Incorrect: I get myself up, shower myself and have breakfast before I leave for work. She becomes herself angry when she doesn't get her way. Correct: I get up, shower and have breakfast before I leave for work.She becomes angry when she doesn't get her way.