ending in -self or -selves, as you indicate, Paolo,
are reflexive pronouns. Verbs which are reflexive in many languages
are not normally reflexive in English. Thus, we would say:
beard growth is so strong that I have to shave twice a day. (Not:
to wash behind your ears. (Not: wash yourselves…)
door opened and the Queen walked in. (Not: opened itself…)
is interested in stamp collecting. (Not: he interests himself…)
if it is necessary to make it clear who is responsible for the action,
reflexive pronouns may be used:
the stroke, he is quite paralysed down his left side and unable
to dress himself.
has to come in to dress him.
pronouns usually refer back to the subject of the clause and
are used to talk about action where the subject and object are the
same person. Study the following:
was in such a hurry that he cut himself shaving this morning.
(Not: cut me…)
decided to end her life and killed herself by swallowing
must get myself a new pair of trainers. These are falling
Nobody offered to serve Kevin so he helped himself to the
vegetables. (he = Kevin himself)
offered to serve Kevin so he helped him to the vegetables. (he
= somebody else)
missed the ferry by five minutes and only had themselves
/ -selvesfor emphasis
sometimes use reflexive pronouns to emphasise the subject or object
when we want to draw attention to that person or thing. When the
reflexive pronoun emphasises the subject, it is more usual to place
it at the end of the clause rather than immediately after the subject
itself, though both positions are possible. Study the following:
ourselves prepared and cooked the five-course meal. Nobody
prepared and cooked the five-course meal ourselves. Nobody
yourself won't be expected to attend the meeting, though your
deputy will be.
won't be expected to attend the meeting yourself, though
your deputy will be I'll go and see the Director-General himself
if those rumours about redundancies are true.
wonderful soup! Did you make it yourself?
oneself / on one's own
oneself is often used as an alternative to on one's own.
Both have two meanings, either 'without company' or 'without help'.
Compare the following:
left the flat and is living by herself. She says she's
always wanted to be on her own.
help him to cut up his food. He's seven now. Let him do it by
himself. He can do it on his own.
and one another / each other
care not to confuse reflexive pronouns and each other / one another.
Compare the following:
saw themselves in the mirror. (Each of them saw himself
saw each other at the theatre. (They bumped into one another)
expressions with -self / -selves
you know all of the following expressions? They all make use of
an imperative for instructions/suggestions where the subject is
yourselves! ( said to friends / relations when they are leaving
yourselves! ( said to children when they are leaving you)
yourself! ( said to a guest when you are offering him/her
food or drink or other facilities in your home)
in. Make yourself at home! ( said when a guest arrives
at your house)