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Archive Language Point 95

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Reflexive pronouns

Helen reading a letter

The reflexive pronouns

When the subject and the object in a sentence are the same, we use a reflexive pronoun.

singular: myself yourself herself himself itself
plural: ourselves yourselves themselves    

Examples: When you go to university, you need to look after yourself. He's very big headed. He has a very high opinion of himself.
It's lovely to see you both. Come in and make yourselves at home.

Reflexive pronouns for emphasis

We can use reflexive pronouns to highlight or emphasise the subject or object. It makes it clear that we are talking about this person or thing and nobody or nothing else.

She's only two but she loves trying to feed herself = She's trying to be independent at a young age.
He likes to save money by cutting his hair himself = He doesn't get the hairdresser to cut his hair (as most people do).

The queen herself is coming to visit our school next year.
They designed their house themselves. They said it was cheaper that way.
The match itself was really good, it's just a pity it ended in a two-all draw.

Comparing -selves and each other:

Themselves/yourselves/ourselves and each other can refer to two people but they are used in slightly different ways.

Kate and Mike are both a bit crazy. You know, they' talk to themselves = Kate talks to herself and Mike talks to himself.
Kate and Mike talk to each other = Kate and Mike have a conversation together.

They decided to treat themselves and have dinner in that new restaurant.
They treated each other for their wedding anniversary - he gave her chocolates and she gave him a new shirt.
They looked at each other and instantly fell in love.
The actress tried on the dress and the actor tried on the shirt for the play and then they looked at themselves in the mirrors.
Michal said 'We need to let each other go.'

When no reflexive pronoun is needed:

We don't use reflexive pronouns with some verbs: feel, relax, hurry, concentrate, meet, get up, wash, shave, dress

I love to relax by just lazing on the beach doing nothing.
She needs to concentrate more if she wants to pass her exam.
He gets up, washes and shaves early and then has breakfast.


something was going on
something wrong was happening

behaving dishonestly

you'll always have a special place in my heart
you will always be important to me and I will remember you very fondly

to let each other go
to not be in a relationship anymore and not see each other again

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