Reflexive pronouns let us form sentences where the subject and object are the same thing. But they can be difficult to use correctly, even for native English speakers. Here, then, we\u2019ve prepared a quick guide to how reflexive pronouns work in English so you can avoid errors in your writing.\r\nReflexive Pronouns in English\r\nThere are eight main reflexive pronouns in English. Each is associated with a\u00a0personal pronoun, and they all end in \u2018-self\u2019 or \u2018-selves\u2019:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nPersonal Pronoun(s)\r\n\r\n\r\nReflexive Pronoun\r\n\r\n\r\nExample\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nI, Me\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nMyself\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nI sat there by myself.\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWe, Us\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nOurselves\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nWe left a note for ourselves.\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nYou (singular)\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nYourself\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nWere you speaking to yourself?\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nYou (plural)\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nYourselves\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nYou\u2019ll have to go by yourselves.\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nShe, Her\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nHerself\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nShe does it for herself.\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHe, Him\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nHimself\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nHe bit himself on the lip.\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThey, Them\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nThemselves\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nThey keep to themselves.\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIt\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nItself\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\nIt must be kept by itself.\r\n\u00a0\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThese words have two main uses in English:\r\n\r\n\tTo form sentences where the subject and object are the same thing.\r\n\tTo emphasise who has performed an action in a sentence.\r\n\r\nWe\u2019ll look at both uses in more detail below.\r\nReflexive Pronouns as Objects\r\nWhen the subject (i.e. the person or thing enacting a verb) and the object (i.e. the person or thing being acted upon) of a sentence are the same thing, we use a reflexive pronoun in the place of the object.\r\nThis can be a direct object (i.e. the thing being acted on directly):\r\nJerry looked at himself in the mirror.\r\nHere, for instance, \u2018Jerry\u2019 is both the subject (i.e. the person looking) and the object (i.e. the thing he sees) in the sentence, so we use \u2018himself\u2019.\r\nAlternatively, reflexive pronouns can stand in for an indirect object (i.e. the recipient of the direct object in a sentence):\r\nSusan made the sandwich for herself.\r\nIn this case, \u2018Susan\u2019 is both the subject (i.e. the person making the sandwich) and the indirect object (i.e. its recipient), so we use \u2018herself\u2019.\r\nIn all cases, though, when the subject and object of a sentence are the same person or thing, you will want to use a reflexive pronoun to make this clear.\r\nReflexivity for Emphasis\r\nWe can also use reflexive pronouns for emphasis. This is often to emphasise agency in a sentence (i.e. who is acting or who is responsible for an action):\r\nI made the cake myself.\r\nHere, \u2018I made the cake\u2019 would make sense by itself. But including \u2018myself\u2019 adds emphasis, as if we were saying \u2018without any help from anyone else\u2019.\r\nWe can also use it more generally for emphasis, especially to imply importance or to show a contrast between two things. In this case, you would usually give the pronoun immediately after a noun or noun phrase:\r\nDavid Bowie himself told me the secret to success!\r\nIt's not a great town, but the beach itself is wonderful.\r\nThis is a little informal, but it is perfectly acceptable in most forms of writing.\r\nA Common Reflexive Pronoun Error\r\nOne common error made when using these terms is using a reflexive pronoun in place of a personal pronoun in a compound subject or object. For instance, some people use \u2018myself\u2019 instead of \u2018I\u2019 or \u2018me\u2019 in a sentence:\r\nSimon and myself have written a book. \u2718\r\nPlease submit the report to myself and Mr Harris. \u2718\r\nHowever, since these are not reflexive or emphatic, they are incorrect.\r\nThere\u2019s an easy way to spot this kind of error, though. All you need to do is remove the other part of the compound subject or object and see if it sounds right as a singular subject or object instead:\r\nMyself have written a book. \u2718\r\nPlease submit the report to myself. \u2718\r\n\r\nWe can quickly see that these sentences should say \u2018I have\u2026\u2019 and \u2018\u2026to me\u2019 instead, respectively. And we can then correct the compound forms, too:\r\nSimon and I have written a book. \u2714\ufe0e\r\nPlease submit the report to me and Mr Harris. \u2714\ufe0e\r\nExpert Proofreading for Grammar\r\nReflexive pronouns can cause a lot of confusion if used incorrectly, so hopefully this post has clarified the basics. To make sure your writing is always at its best, though, why not try our free proofreading trial today?