Sunday, 9 March 2014

Reflexive and Emphatic pronouns

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Reflexive pronouns and emphatic pronouns look alike. They either end in –self, as in the singular form, or selves as in theplural form.

The singular reflexive/ emphatic pronouns are:

Himself, herself, itself

Plural reflexive pronouns include:


Reflexive pronouns are pronouns that refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause.

He fell down and hurt himself.
I e-mailed myself copy of the article.
Kumar blames himself .
If we write without self’, the pronouns will not refer back to the doer of the action. They will refer to somebody else.

He hurt me.
I e-mailed you a copy of the article.
Kumar blames her.

Emphatic pronouns

When reflexive pronouns are used to put emphasis on a particular noun they are called emphatic pronouns.

She herself told me this.

I finished the job myself.

We ourselves cooked dinner.

* The emphatic pronouns cannot be used as subjects. It is therefore wrong to say:

Shekhar and myself went there.

I invited herself to tea.

The correct form will be:

Shekhar and I went there.

I invited her to tea.

Difference between reflective and emphatic pronouns:

A pronoun is a reflexive one if the action of the subject reflectsupon the doer.

He cut himself. (Reflexive: here the subject and object refer to the same person.)
Emphatic pronouns, on the other hand, are used to just emphasize the action of the subject.

He himself cut the cake. ( He cut the cake-not anybody else.)

I spoke to the principal myself. (Emphatic)


You must blame yourself for the loss. (Reflexive – the subject and the object are the same).

An emphatic pronoun can be removed from the sentence and the core meaning would not be affected.


myself opened the door.

I opened the door.

reflexive pronoun, on the other hand, is indispensable. The sentence wouldn’t make complete sense if you remove the reflexive pronoun.


She cut herself.

If you remove herself, what remains, will not make sense.

She cut…… what?

·       Some use ‘itself’ along with the pronouns in order to give emphasis.

You  itself teach me.
He itself wants to go there.

But that is not the way. It should be:

You yourself teach me.
He himself wants to go there.


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