Reflexive Pronoun: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Are Pronouns & Objects?
  • 1:34 Using Reflexive Pronouns
  • 3:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Debbie Notari
In this lesson, we will define the reflexive pronoun. A reflexive pronoun is used in a situation where the subject of the sentence is the same person as the object of the sentence. They also end in the word 'self.'

What Are Pronouns & Objects?

We use reflexive pronouns, pronouns that end in the word 'self' or 'selves,' when the subject of a sentence is the exact same as the object of a sentence. Before we can fully understand reflexive pronouns, however, we need to back up and make sure we know what pronouns and objects are. A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Instead of saying 'Jack,' we might say 'he.' Pronouns are extremely useful in writing and speaking because they provide alternatives to having to repeat proper nouns over and over. Let's look at an example of a sentence that doesn't use any pronouns:

Jack went to the beach because Jack loves to surf. Jack knew that a storm was coming, but Jack didn't anticipate how high the waves would be.

Without the use of pronouns, we have to keep repeating Jack's name. Now let's look at the same sentences and see what happens when we use the pronoun 'he':

Jack went to the beach because he loves to surf. He knew that a storm was coming, but he didn't anticipate how high the waves would be.

Notice how much better the sentences sound when we're not saying the name 'Jack' over and over again?

Now that we understand pronouns, let's look at objects. The object in a sentence receives the action of the subject. For instance, we might say:

Jeanne ate the tacos.

'Jeanne' is the subject, and 'tacos' is the object of the sentence, because they are receiving the action. In this case, they are what is being eaten by the subject, Jeanne. Let's try another example:

Sam hit Paul.

Paul receives the action from Sam, the subject, so Paul is the object of the sentence. In other words, Paul is the one being hit.

Using Reflexive Pronouns

We've already established that we have a reflexive pronoun when the subject of a sentence is the same as the object of a sentence. This sounds like a riddle, but it's really pretty simple. First, let's take a look at a list of reflexive pronouns:

  • myself
  • himself
  • herself
  • itself
  • yourself
  • themselves
  • ourselves
  • yourselves

The easiest way to identify a reflexive pronoun is to see the word 'self' or 'selves' attached to a pronoun, like my, him, or her.

Now, how is a reflexive pronoun used in a sentence? Here are a few examples:

I tripped myself. ('I' is the subject, and 'myself' is the object, receiving the action of the subject.) Let's try another one:

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