“I saw myself reflected in her eyes.”
No, the above sentence isn’t a sappy love song lyric. It’s an example of a particular kind of pronoun called a reflexive pronoun. Unfamiliar with reflexive pronouns? Read on to find out all you need to know about them.
What Are Reflexive Pronouns?
Reflexive pronouns are pronouns that refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause. They either end in –self, as in the singular form, or –selves as in the plural form.
The singular reflexive pronouns are:
Himself, herself, itself
Plural reflexive pronouns include:
All of the above pronouns are used to rename the subjects of action verbs and function as different types of objects. If the reflexive pronoun is taken out of the sentence, it won’t make sense. Let’s look at a few examples.
Examples of reflexive pronouns
The following sentences are examples of the correct and incorrect use of reflexive pronouns.
In this sense the italicized words are not the same person. Him is not a reflection of Adam therefore it is not a reflexive pronoun.
Here are the italicized words are the same person. Himself reflects back to the subject of the sentence which is Adam.
Reflexive: Allison accidentally cut herself.
Reflexive: Brandon blames himself.
Reflexive: Can you feed yourselves?
Reflexive: They cannot help themselves.
Reflexive: Carol poured herself a glass of milk.
Reflexive: The young girl was singing happily to herself.
More examples of reflexive pronouns:
Reflexive Pronouns and Intensive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns can also function as intensive pronouns but they act a little differently and they aren’t used in quite the same way. An intensive pronoun emphasizes its antecedent, or the subject of the sentence. These pronouns are positioned right next to the subject.
To recap, reflexive pronouns refer back to, or reflect, the subject and they always end in –self or –selves. There are only eight reflexive pronouns so remembering them and how to use them should be a snap.