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Lesson 1.4

Reflexive Pronouns

Los pronombres reflexivos
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Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the complement of the verb are the same. While reflexive verbs are common in many other languages, they are not used as frequently in English. When necessary, the verb is followed by one of the following reflexive pronouns:

Reflexive PronounsExample
  myself   I saw it for myself.
  yourself   Don’t burn yourself!
  himself   He hurt himself.
  herself   She did it herself.
  itself   The cat scratched itself.
  ourselves   We made it ourselves.
  yourselves   Did you paint the house yourselves?
  themselves   They were speaking to themselves.

Note: “You” can be either singular or plural. Note the reflexive form of the singular (“yourself”) and the plural (“yourselves”).

Grammatical Rules

1. We can use reflexive pronouns with most transitive verbs, but among the most common are:

  blame,   cut,   enjoy,   help ,   hurt ,   introduce,   prepare,   teach

Examples:

 How did he hurt himself?
 We really enjoyed ourselves while on holiday.
 I blame myself.

2. We can use reflexive pronouns when we want to emphasize the subject. In these cases, it is more common to place the pronoun at the end of the sentence rather than after the verb.

Examples:

 We painted the house ourselves.
 What a great party! Did you prepare everything yourself?

3. We use “by” + reflexive pronoun to indicate “alone”.

Examples:

 I often prefer to be by myself.
 She learned to read all by herself.

4. The use of the reflexive pronoun with some verbs can change the meaning.

Examples:

 Help yourself to some coffee. (meaning: take some coffee)
 We found ourselves in the middle of a very complicated situation. (meaning: to discover unexpectedly)

5. We do not use reflexive pronouns for actions that people usually do for themselves.

Example:

 I have to shave every other day.
I have to shave myself every other day.

6. We use reflexive pronouns with certain expressions.

Examples:

 Behave yourselves! (meaning: behave well)
 Help yourself. (meaning: said to someone when offering something, such as food or drink)
 Make yourself at home. (meaning: said to a guest to encourage them to feel comfortable in your home)

Reciprocal Pronouns

Reciprocal pronouns are formed with the phrase “each other”. This is not a reflexive form, but rather a reciprocal one. In contrast to the reflexive, we have two different subjects that are talking one to one.

Example:

 John and Peter speak to each other every day.
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