A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun that refers to another noun or pronoun (its antecedent
) within the same sentence.
English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples that migrated to the i ...
specifically, a reflexive pronoun will end in ''-self'' or ''-selves'', and refer to a previously named noun or pronoun (''myself'', ''yourself'', ''ourselves'', ''themselves'', etc.). English intensive pronouns
, used for emphasis, take the same form.
Generative grammar, or generativism , is a linguistic theory that regards linguistics as the study of a hypothesised innate grammatical structure. It is a biological or biologistic modification of earlier structuralist theories of linguisti ...
, a reflexive pronoun is an
In linguistics, anaphora () is the use of an expression whose interpretation depends upon another expression in context (its antecedent or postcedent). In a narrower sense, anaphora is the use of an expression that depends specifically upon an a ...
that must be bound by its antecedent (see binding
). In a general sense, it is a
In linguistics, a noun phrase, or nominal (phrase), is a phrase that has a noun or pronoun as its head or performs the same grammatical function as a noun. Noun phrases are very common cross-linguistically, and they may be the most frequently oc ...
that obligatorily gets its meaning from another noun phrase in the sentence. Different languages have different binding domains
for reflexive pronouns, according to their structure.
Origins and usage
The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Du ...
, the reflexive pronoun has its origins in
Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-E ...
. In some languages, some distinction exists between normal object and reflexive pronouns, mainly in the third person: whether one says "I like me" or "I like myself", there is no question that the object is the same person as the subject; but, in "They like them(selves)", there can be uncertainty about the identity of the object unless a distinction exists between the reflexive and the nonreflexive. In some languages, this distinction includes
In grammar, the genitive case (abbreviated ) is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus indicating an attributive relationship of one noun to the other noun. A genitive can ...
forms: see, for instance, the Danish examples below. In languages with a distinct reflexive pronoun form, it is often
Gender neutrality (adjective form: gender-neutral), also known as gender-neutralism or the gender neutrality movement, is the idea that policies, language, and other social institutions (social structures or gender roles) should avoid distinguish ...
A reflexive pronoun is normally used when the object of a sentence is the same as the subject. Each personal pronoun (such as ''I'', ''you'', ''he'' and ''she'') has its own reflexive form:
* ''I — myself''
* ''you — yourself/yourselves''
* ''he — himself''
* ''she — herself''
* ''one — oneself''
* ''it — itself''
* ''we — ourselves''
* ''they — themself/themselves''
These pronouns can also be used ''intensively'', to emphasize the identity of whoever or whatever is being talked about:
* Jim bought himself a book (reflexive)
* Jim himself bought a book (intensive)
s usually appear near and/or before the subject of the sentence.
Usually after prepositions of locality it is preferred to use a personal
object pronoun rather than a reflexive pronoun:
* Close the door ''after you.'' (NOT ''... after yourself.'')
* He was pulling a small cart ''behind him.'' (NOT ''... behind himself.'')
* She took her dog ''with her.'' (NOT ... ''with herself.'')
* She's very pleased ''with herself.'' (NOT ... ''with her.'')
Certain verbs have reflexive pronouns in some languages but not in English:
* Do you ''shave'' on Sundays? (NOT Do you ''shave yourself'' on Sundays?)
* Try to ''concentrate.'' (NOT Try to ''concentrate yourself'')
* I ''feel'' strange''.'' (NOT I ''feel myself'' strange.)
Compare to French:
* (''te'' is the second person singular reflexive pronoun in French, but it can serve as an object pronoun)
The list of such verbs:
* ''complain, concentrate, get up/hot/tired, lie down, meet, relax, remember, sit down, wake up, shave, undress, wash, acclimatise, adapt, behave, hide, move...''
Non-reflexive usage in English
Non-reflexive use of reflexive pronouns is rather common in English. Most of the time, reflexive pronouns function as emphatic pronoun
s that highlight or emphasize the individuality or particularity of the noun. Grammatically, the position of reflexive pronouns in this usage is either right after the noun the pronouns are emphasizing or, if the noun is subject, after-verb-or-object position is also possible. For example, "Why don't you ''yourself'' do the job?", "Why don't you do the job ''yourself''?", or "I want to fix my phone ''itself''; I will not fix your watch as well."
Some speakers use reflexive pronouns without local linguistic antecedents to refer to discourse participants or people already referenced in a discourse: for example, "Please, forward the information to ''myself'', Anything else for ''yourself'' today?". (Note that ''me'' and ''you'' would be more concise in such instances.) Within the linguistics literature, reflexives with discourse antecedents are often referred to as logophor
s. Standard English allows use of logophors in some contexts: for example, "John was angry. Embarrassing pictures of himself were on display." However, within Standard English, this logophoric use of reflexives is generally limited to positions where the reflexive does not have a coargument. The newer non-standard usage does not respect this limitation. In some cases, reflexives without local antecedents may be better analyzed as emphatic pronouns without any true reflexive sense.
It is common in some dialects of English to use standard object pronoun
s to express reflexive relations, especially in the first and sometimes second persons, and especially for a recipient: for example, "I want to get me some supper." While this was seemingly standard in Old English through the Early Modern Period (with "self" constructs primarily used for emphatic purposes), it is held to be dialectal or nonstandard in Modern English.
It is also common in informal speech to use ''myself'' in a conjunctive phrase when 'me' would suffice: "She stood by Jane and myself." Also ''myself'' is used when 'I' would be more appropriate; for example, Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying, "Hamilton and myself were daily pitted in the cabinet like two cocks."
In languages other than English
Mandarin (; ) is a group of Chinese (Sinitic) dialects that are natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China. The group includes the Beijing dialect, the basis of the phonology of Standard Chinese, the official language of ...
, the reflexive pronoun is , meaning "self".
The antecedent it refers to can be inferred by context, which is generally the subject of the sentence:
* 。(''Ill take care of ''(my)self''.)
* 。(Take care of ''(your)self''.)
The antecedent can be reiterated before the reflexive pronoun; this can be used to refer to an antecedent that's not the subject:
* 。(I gave him ''his own'' book.)
* 。(I gave him ''my own'' book.)
Like English, the reflexive can also be used to emphasize the antecedent:
* 。(''He'' took it ''(him)self''.)
The reflexive can also be the subject of an embedded clause.
* 。 (''He'' considers ''(him)self'' very clever. ''He'' feels that ''he'' is very clever.)
Also unlike English, the reflexive can refer to antecedents outside of the embedded clause. Because of this, it may be ambiguous whether the antecedent refers to the subject of the main clause or the embedded clause, in which case it may be necessary to reiterate the antecedent:
* 。(I feel that ''Mr. Wang'' likes you more than he likes ''(him)self''.)
* 。(I feel that ''Mr. Wang'' likes you more than he likes ''myself''.)
The reflexive pronoun in Cantonese Chinese
In historical linguistics, cognates or lexical cognates are sets of words in different languages that have been inherited in direct descent from an etymological ancestor in a common parent language. Because language change can have radical ef ...
to Mandarin ''zìjǐ'' (and thus also written as ), also follows the same rules.
This was also the case in
Classical Chinese, also known as Literary Chinese (古文 ''gǔwén'' "ancient text", or 文言 ''wényán'' "text speak", meaning
"literary language/speech"; modern vernacular: 文言文 ''wényánwén'' "text speak text", meaning
, which simply used
Old Chinese, also called Archaic Chinese in older works, is the oldest attested stage of Chinese, and the ancestor of all modern varieties of Chinese. The earliest examples of Chinese are divinatory inscriptions on oracle bones from around 125 ...
Danish may refer to:
* Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark
* A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane," see Demographics of Denmark
* Culture of Denmark
* Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ance ...
uses the separate reflexive pronoun '' sig
'' for third person pronouns, and 'selv' to mark intensive.
* (''I protect myself'')
In Danish, there is also a difference between normal and reflexive genitives, the latter being used only in the singular:
* (Anna gave Maria her 'Maria's, or possibly some unknown third person's''
* (Anna gave Maria her 'Anna's''
In the latter case, sin
is a case of a ''reflexive possessive pronoun'', i.e. it reflects that the subject in the phrase (Anna) owns the object (the book).
Esperanto ( or ) is the world's most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Created by the Warsaw-based ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof in 1887, it was intended to be a universal second language for international commun ...
third-person reflexive pronoun is , or for the possessive (to which can be added ''-j'' for plural agreement and ''-n'' for direct object).
* (''He reads his (someone else's) books.'')
, the main reflexive pronoun is , with its indefinite
There are also intensifying reflexive pronouns, such as , , , , and , similar in meaning (but not often used) to myself, yourself, etc.
French also uses reflexive verbs to express actions that somebody is doing to themselves. Many of these are related to daily routine. For example,
* (I get washed, lit "I wash myself")
, the reflexive case is not distinguishable from the accusative and dative cases except in the third person reflexive. As discussed above, the reflexive case is most useful when handling third person because it is not always clear that pronouns refer to the same person, whereas in the first and second persons, it is clear: ''he hit him'' and ''he hit himself'' have different meanings, but ''I hit me'' and ''I hit myself'' mean the same thing although the former is nonstandard English.
Because the accusative and dative cases are different, the speaker must know whether the verb is reflexive accusative or reflexive dative. There are very few reflexive dative verbs, which must be memorised to ensure that the correct grammar is used. The most notable one is (to hurt oneself): (I hurt myself.) See also
German pronouns are German words that function as pronouns. As with pronouns in other languages, they are frequently employed as the subject or object of a clause, acting as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases, but are also used in relati ...
Hindi (Devanāgarī: or , ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in the Hindi Belt region encompassing parts of northern, central, eastern, and western India. Hindi has been d ...
, there are two primary reflexive pronouns, the reflexive pronoun () rom PIE
meaning "self" and pronoun () PII
__"self".html" ;"title="Proto-Indo-Iranian_language.html" ;"title="rom PII
There_is_only_one_reflexive_pronoun_in_Icelandic_language">Icelandic_and_that_is_the_word_''wikt:en:sig#Icelandic">sig''._It_does_not_differ_between_grammatical_gender.html" ;"title="wikt:en:sig#Icelandic.html" ;"title="Icelandic_language.html" ;"title="Inessive_case.html" ;"title="Proto-Indo-Iranian language">PII "self"">Proto-Indo-Iranian_language.html" ;"title="rom Proto-Indo-Iranian language">PII "self"which is the possessive reflexive pronoun and both these pronouns are used with all the three, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, persons.
There is also the pronoun () which is used with either the Inessive case">inessive case-marker () forming the reflexive pronoun () meaning "among ourselves" or the genitive postpostion () forming the reflexing pronoun () meaning "of ourselves". The genitive reflexive pronoun can also be used to emphasise when used with the personal genitive pronouns, so e.g. () "mine" becomes () "my very own". [ Alternatively, using the genitive postposition () with () gives () meaning the same as ().
These reflexive pronouns can be used with case-marking postpositions as shown below in the table to the right.
* . (I talk about ''myself''.)
There is only one reflexive pronoun in Icelandic language">Icelandic and that is the word ''wikt:en:sig#Icelandic">sig''. It does not differ between grammatical gender">genders nor number.
The reflexive pronouns are as such:
* Reflexive pronoun: (himself/itself/herself/themselves)
* wikt:en:reflexive possessive pronoun, reflexive possessive pronoun: (his/her/its/their)
The reflexive pronoun refers to the third person:
* .(masc. sing.) (He talks about ''himself'')
The reflexive pronouns in Italian are:
* (first person singular)
* (second person singular)
* (third person singular)
* (first person plural)
* (second person plural)
* (third person plural)
Reflexive pronouns are usually employed when the direct object in a sentence is also its subject, thus reflecting the action as expressed in the verb on the subject itself.
This pronoun allows the building of three kinds of reflexive verbal forms: proper, non-proper (or ostensible), and reciprocal.
* , or (I wash myself): reflexive proper, because the subject is at the same time the object of the sentence.
Notice that the sentence ''I wash myself'' could also be translated in Italian as , stressing the reflexiveness much more than English.
The complete list of intensifying reflexive pronouns is:
* (first person masculine singular)
* (first person feminine singular)
* (second person masculine singular)
* (second person feminine singular)
* (third person masculine singular)
* (third person feminine singular)
* (first person masculine plural)
* (first person feminine plural)
* (second person masculine plural)
* (second person feminine plural)
* (third person masculine plural)
* (third person feminine plural)
is spoken natively by about 128 million people, primarily by Japanese people and primarily in Japan, the only country where it is the national language. Japanese belongs to the Japonic or Japanese- Ryukyuan language family. There have been ..., () and () are reflexive pronouns that correspond roughly to 'oneself'. They differ from English in some ways; for example, and do not have to agree in gender or number where English reflexives do. can further be bound locally or long distance where English reflexives must always occur locally. Although both English and Japanese pronouns must be c-command
In generative grammar and related frameworks, a node in a parse tree c-commands its sister node and all of its sister's descendants. In these frameworks, c-command plays a central role in defining and constraining operations such as syntactic mov ...ed by their antecedents, because of the syntactic structure of Japanese, long distance binding is allowed.
Korean may refer to:
People and culture
* Koreans, ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula
* Korean cuisine
* Korean culture
* Korean language
** Korean alphabet, known as Hangul or Chosŏn'gŭl
**Korean dialects and the Jeju language
* ..., and are used as reflexive pronouns that refer to 'myself', 'himself', 'herself', and 'ourselves'. is also a reflexive pronoun but it usually corresponds only to the first person (myself).
In the first and second persons,
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of ... uses the ordinary oblique forms of the personal pronouns as reflexive pronouns. In the third person, Latin uses the special reflexive pronoun , which is the same for all genders and numbers, and declined in all cases except the nominative and the vocative.
* '' per se''
An alternative full form, , is used for emphasis.
* (Ana gave her 'Maria's''book to Maria.)
* (Ana gave her 'Ana's''book to Maria.)
( Novial is a
A constructed language (sometimes called a conlang) is a language whose phonology, grammar, and vocabulary, instead of having developed naturally, are consciously devised for some purpose, which may include being devised for a work of fictio ..., mostly based on Romance languages
The Romance languages, sometimes referred to as Latin languages or Neo-Latin languages, are the various modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin. They are the only extant subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European language fa ....)
* (He sees him.)
In Polish the oblique reflexive pronouns is and it declines as above. It is used with 1st, 2nd and 3rd person:
* "I wash myself"
* "You wash yourself"
* "Peter washes himself"
It has been grammaticalized to a high degree, becoming also a marker of medial and/or anti-causative voice:
* "Door opened", lit. "Door opened itself"
* "We fell", lit. "We turned ourselves over"
Similarly, the dative gained an additional, volitional/liberative meaning, usually used in informal speech:
* "So, I'm casually walking down the street and suddenly I see 10 zloty just lying there.", lit. "I'm walking for myself, I'm looking for myself, and there lies for itself 10 zloty"
* "I'm a kindergartner" (from children's song)
Moreover, the phrase has been lexicalized and means "to leave" (cf. French ):
* "This party's boring, I'm leaving"
Polish also has a possessive reflexive pronoun . It assumes the gender of the possessed object, not that of the possessor.
* "He took his (own) things and went out."
* "He looked at his (own) phone."
* "Anna gave her (Anna's) book to Cathy."
Not using a reflexive pronoun might indicate the other party's possession of the object:
* "Anna returned Cathy's book"
The intensive meaning is done by the pronoun (inflecting for case, gender and number):
Usually inflected is added in obliques:
* (fem.) "I listen to myself"
* (fem.) "I believe myself"
Emphatically the accusative can be replaced with dative:
* (masc.) "I did it myself", "I did it alone"
* (masc.) "I did it myself", "I did it personally"
* (''When he sees him.'')
* (''When he sees himself.'')
There are two ways to make a reflexive sentence in Portuguese. The first way is by attaching the reflexive pronoun (me, te, se, nos - also vos) to the verb. The second way is by also attaching the words or , masc/fem. (plural) (="self"), immediately after the verb to add stress/intensity :
* (I hurt myself.)
* Dative: himself, herself
* Accusative: himself, herself
In Russian, the pronoun universally means "oneself"/"myself"/"himself", etc. It is inflected depending on the
Case or CASE may refer to:
* Case (goods), a package of related merchandise
* Cartridge case or casing, a firearm cartridge component
* Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books
* Briefcase or attaché case, a narrow box to ....
When used to indicate that the person is the direct object of the verb, one uses the accusative
The accusative case (abbreviated ) of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb.
In the English language, the only words that occur in the accusative case are pronouns: 'me,' 'him,' 'her,' 'us,' and ‘the ... form, . (It does not have a nominative form.)
* . . ("He has wounded himself.")
Emphasized forms are "sam sebya" - masculine, "sama sebya" - feminine, "sami sebya" - plural. However, the word "sam" usually comes after the noun it is emphasizing.
* . . ("He has wounded himself." Literally: "He himself has wounded himself.")
This sentence underlines that the subject inflicted the wounds while in the previous example, "sebya" merely indicates that the subject was wounded.
In addition, the reflexive pronoun gave rise the reflexive affix () used to generate reflexive verb
In grammar, a reflexive verb is, loosely, a verb whose direct object is the same as its subject; for example, "I wash myself". More generally, a reflexive verb has the same semantic agent and patient (typically represented syntactically by the s ...s, but in this context the affix indicates that the action happened accidentally:
* (He has wounded himself by accident.)
There are certain stylistic differences between the three usages, despite being rendered in the same way in English.
When the person is not a direct object of the verb, other cases are used:
* . . ("He brought a bottle of vodka with himself.") - instrumental case
In grammar, the instrumental case (abbreviated or ) is a grammatical case used to indicate that a noun is the ''instrument'' or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action. The noun may be either a physical object or an ...
* . ("He dropped a bag on his (own) foot." Literally: "He dropped a bag to himself on the foot.") - dative case
In grammar, the dative case (abbreviated , or sometimes when it is a core argument) is a grammatical case used in some languages to indicate the recipient or beneficiary of an action, as in "Maria Jacobo potum dedit", Latin for "Maria gave Jacob ...
* . . ("He dropped a bag on his (someone else's) foot.")
Russian has a reflexive possessive as well.
* (''He loves his wife (his own).'' - Reflexive possessive)
* (''He loves his wife (someone else's).'' - It is ambiguous in English, but less so in Russian.)
Because of the existence of reflexive forms, the use of a non-reflexive pronoun indicates a subject that is different from the object. If it is impossible, the sentence is invalid or at least irregular:
* . . ("He has wounded him (someone else).")
Serbo-Croatian () – also called Serbo-Croat (), Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB), Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), and Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) – is a South Slavic language and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia an ... uses the reflexive pronoun , which is the same for all persons, numbers and genders, and declined as follows: [Contents]
* ("Ana gave ''her'' aria'sbook to Maria.")
* ("Ana gave ''her'' na'sbook to Maria.")
The words that modify the reflexive pronoun do show gender and number:
* "He wondered at himself."
The enclitic form of the reflexive pronoun, ''se'', has been grammaticalized to a high degree:
* lit. "Door opened itself" ("Door opened")
* lit. "We turned ourselves over" ("We fell")
In Spanish, the reflexive pronouns are: (first person singular/plural), (second person) or (third person). In Latin America, is not used, being replaced by for the pronoun . For clarity, there are optional intensifying adjuncts for reflexive pronouns, accompanied by (masculine and feminine forms for "self"). They are not strictly adjuncts: (instead of ), (in the
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata (, "river of silver"), also called the River Plate or La Plata River in English, is the estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River at Punta Gorda. It empties into the Atlantic Ocean and fo ... region, it is replaced by ) but : they usually postpend the genitive.
Examples with "wash oneself":
* ''(I wash myself.)''
Note that the indirect object "le"/"les" do ''not'' override "se" in the reflexive.
Slovene ( or ), or alternatively Slovenian (; or ), is a South Slavic language, a sub-branch that is part of the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken by about 2.5 million speakers worldwide (excluding speake ... has reflexive pronouns as well:
* (''Ana gave her'' 'Maria's''''book to Maria.'')
* (''Ana gave her'' 'Ana's''''book to Maria.'')
In Uzbek, the pronoun (), refers to ''oneself'' and, to create a person specific forms, it requires certain affixes:
''myself'' - + => (); to ''myself'' - + => (); from ''myself'' - + => ();
''yourself'' - + => (); to ''yourself'' - + => (); from ''yourself'' - + => ();
''himself''/ ''herself''/ ''itself'' - + => (); to ''himself''/ ''herself''/ ''itself''- + => (); from ''himself''/ ''herself''/ ''itself''- + => ();
''ourselves'' - + => (); to ''ourselves''- + => (); from ''ourselves'' - + => ();
''yourselves'' - + => (); to ''yourselves'' - + => (); from ''yourselves'' - + => ();
''themselves'' - + => (); to ''themselves''- + => (); from ''themselves''- + => ();
''myself'' - + => ()
''yourself'' - + => ()
''himself''/ ''herself''/ ''itself'' - + => ()
''ourselves'' - + => ()
''yourselves'' - + => ()
''themselves'' - + => ()
Basically, the suffixes change based on the preposition used:
* (John bought ''himself'' a car)
* (We hurt ''ourselves'' playing football)
* (This refrigerator defrosts ''itself'' )
* (I'm annoyed ''with myself'')
* (They looked ''at themselves'')
* (Take care ''of yourselves'')
In Vietnamese, the reflexive pronoun is whose meaning can be ''myself'', ''herself'', ''himself'', ''themselves'' etc. depending on the number/gender of its antecedent.
* (John hit himself.)
An Austronesian Pama–Nyungan language, Guugu Yimithirr uses the suffix ''/-gu/'' on pronouns—much like ''-self'' in English, to emphasize that the action of the verb is performed by the subject and not someone else. Take for example, the following exchange.
In grammar, a reflexive verb is, loosely, a verb whose direct object is the same as its subject; for example, "I wash myself". More generally, a reflexive verb has the same semantic agent and patient (typically represented syntactically by the s ...
* Reciprocal pronoun
A reciprocal pronoun is a pronoun that indicates a reciprocal relationship. A reciprocal pronoun can be used for one of the participants of a reciprocal construction, i.e. a clause in which two participants are in a mutual relationship. The reci ...
* Reciprocal construction
* Myself (disambiguation)
* ''Yourself'' (song), the twelfth single by
A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. Humans spend about two hours dreaming per night, and each dream lasts around 5 to 20 minutes, althou ...
* ''Herself'' (film), a 2020 drama film
In film and television, drama is a category or genre of narrative fiction (or semi-fiction) intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular supe ... directed by Phyllida Lloyd
* Herself the Elf, a franchise line for young girls similar to Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry shortcake may refer to:
* Strawberry shortcake (dessert), a shortcake served with strawberries
* "Strawberry Shortcake, Huckleberry Pie," a song published in 1956; a version by The Brother Sisters was released by Mercury Records in 19 ...
* Himself (disambiguation)
Transitivity and valency