A reflexive pronoun is a pronoun which
ends in —self or
—selves, such as myself, himself,
herself, themselves, yourself,
yourselves, itself, oneself, and
ourselves. Reflexive pronouns are often used
incorrectly, so this tip explains the correct way to use
A reflexive pronoun follows and refers
back to itself in another form: a previously mentioned noun
or pronoun (in this sentence, itself refers back to
pronoun). In order to use a reflexive pronoun
correctly, you must have already used its antecedent in the
The following examples use reflexive pronouns
correctly (both the reflexive pronoun and the noun/pronoun
it modifies are italicized):
Ex. I taught myself how to play
the piano. (the object of the sentence is the same as the
Ex. Bob showed himself out of
the UFO after the Martians were done with him.
Common Incorrect Usage
Let's look at two example sentences and
discuss why they're incorrect.
Ex. The teacher spoke to Fred and myself.
This example is incorrect because the
myself does not refer back to a noun or pronoun named
earlier in the sentence (the correct pronoun use in this
sentence would be me). So, the correct sentence would
read "The teacher spoke to Fred and me."
Another common error is actually a spelling
mistake and mixes plural and singular forms (i.e.
themselves becomes themself or ourselves
Ex. Harvey and Bill, concerned
for themself, worried about the upcoming eclipse.
Themself is not a word; the correct
form is plural since the subject is plural.
Essentially, you cannot use a plural pronoun (them)
with a singular (—self)
ending, as writers sometimes do. So, the correct sentence
would read "Harvey and Bill, concerned for
themselves, worried about the upcoming eclipse."