Reflexive pronouns

by Brian November 30, 2020

 There are many ways of saying goodbye in English. The most common is probably see you but we can also say cheers, take care, see you later or catch you later. Another expression we might use is take care of yourself, especially if someone has been sick or going through a rough patch.

In the expression take care of yourself, we are using the reflexive pronoun

yourself. In this blog we will look at when to use the reflexive pronouns in English.

The reflexive pronouns

The reflexive pronouns are:

Oneself (formal)

When do we use the reflexive pronouns?

As a direct object

We use the reflexive pronouns in English as a direct object, when the object is the same as the subject of a verb.

For example, if you cut your finger while you were chopping an onion you might say

I cut myself while I was chopping an onion.

In this sentence,  I is the subject of the verb. This means is the person who does the action. The word myself refers to the same person. Myself is the object of the verb cut. This means it is the person or thing that receives the action.

In this case we must use the reflexive pronoun myself, not the object pronoun me. So, we cannot say:

I cut me while I was chopping an onion.

We must say:

I cut myself while I was chopping an onion.

Here are some more examples of reflexive pronouns used as the direct object:

Jane blamed herself for the accident.

Ask yourself this question: Am I happy with my job?

Terry hates himself.

I saw a bird washing itself.

We treated ourselves to an ice cream.

As an indirect object

Some verbs can be followed by two objects. The indirect object is often a person who receives something. Look at this sentence:

I gave the book to Mary.

In this example I is the subject of the verb gave and the book is the object.

We could also say:

I gave Mary the book.

In this sentence Mary is now the indirect object.

If the indirect object is the same person or thing as the subject, we must use a reflexive pronoun. Here are some examples:

John cooked himself dinner.

I bought myself a pizza.

She poured herself a glass of wine.

They taught themselves French.


After a prepostition

Instead of using an indirect object after the verb, we often use a preposition after the direct object, followed by a reflexive pronoun. For example:

John cooked dinner for himself.

I bought a pizza for myself.

She poured a glass of wine for herself.

They taught French to themselves.

Test Yourself


Reflexive pronouns

Test your knowledge of reflexive pronouns

1 / 8

Choose the correct missing word:

They were disappointed with __________ when they failed the test.

2 / 8

Choose the correct missing word:

I cut ________ shaving.

3 / 8

Choose the correct missing word:

Jimmy hates ________.

4 / 8

Choose the correct missing word:

We are very happy with _________ for winning the football match.

5 / 8

Choose the correct missing word:

You can help ________ to a sandwich.

6 / 8

Choose the correct missing word:

Have you ever seen a bird washing _________?

7 / 8

Choose the correct missing word:

They bought _________ new clothes.

8 / 8

Choose the correct missing word:

He gave ______ a bottle of beer.

Your score is


To chop: To cut something into pieces with a knife or axe

To blame: To say someone did something wrong

To treat oneself: To buy something or do something nice for yourself

Thank you for reading our post. You’ll find more English grammar tips elsewhere on our site and if you’d like information on our English courses in Dublin, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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