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Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are used when the object of a verb in a sentence is the same as its subject.

  • I told myself it would never work.
  • He cut himself shaving.

Reflexive pronouns do not change forms for case.

The following table shows singular and plural reflexive pronouns for first, second, and third persons.

himself, herself, itselfthemselves

Intensive pronouns are identical in form to reflexive pronouns, but they are used for emphasis, to intensify the meaning of the sentence. In such cases, the sentence would make sense even if the intensive pronoun was omitted.

  • Correct: No one else would clean the kitchen, so I did it myself.
  • Correct: No one else would clean the kitchen, so I did it.

Informal, spoken English sometimes replaces simple personal pronouns with reflexive/intensive forms, even though the reflexive pronoun is not needed:

  • Informal: Liu and myself interviewed the applicant. (Liu and interviewed the applicant.)
  • Informal: A person like yourself would do well in this job. (A person like you would do well in this job.)

In formal writing, however, reflexives should only be used where they are grammatically required, as many teachers and editors frown upon the misuse of reflexives. Reflexives should not replace personal pronouns, but supplement them.

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