What is Reflexive Pronoun and Emphatic Pronoun? Difference between reflexive and emphatic pronouns

After completing this lesson, you will be able to Define reflexive and emphatic pronouns, identify reflexive and emphatic pronouns in given sentences, difference between reflexive and emphatic pronouns

What is a reflexive pronoun?

A reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject of the sentence. It can also be used to give more emphasis to the subject or the object.

A reflexive pronoun is formed by adding ‘self ‘or ‘selves’ to the personal pronouns.

When ‘self’ is added to pronounce my, your, him, her, it and ‘selves’ to pronounce our, your, them, we get compound personal pronouns.

Compound personal pronouns are also known as reflexive pronouns.

For Example: I locked myself out of the room.
In this sentence myself is the reflexive pronoun for the subject ‘I’.

Reflexive pronouns form the subject, as well as the indirect object of the verb.

Let’s take a closer look at this sentence to understand reflexive pronouns:

I locked myself out of the room.

‘I’ is the subject of this sentence.

I locked somebody out.

Whom did I lock out? The answer is ‘I’. ‘I’ is also the object of this sentence. So we use the reflexive pronoun myself to refer to the subject ‘I’.

Reflexive pronouns can be used in the following ways:

  • When the action done by the subject is reflected back upon the subject.

For example: The boy washed himself.
The subject boy performs the act of washing his own body. So the action is reflected back upon the subject.

  • When the subject or object of the verb are the same person or thing.

For example: Raj bought himself a bat.
Raj is the subject of the verb. But he is also the object of the verb.  They are used after verbs with prepositions to clarify which person or thing we are talking about.

Reflexive pronouns are not used if this is already clear.

For example: She was standing by herself.

The reflexive pronoun herself is used after standing by. This is to clarify that the girl was standing alone and not with anybody else.

Table of reflexive and emphatic pronouns-

SUBJECTREFLEXIVE/EMPHATIC PRONOUNS
I1st person singularMyself
You2nd person singularYourself
He3rd person singularHimself
She3rd person singularHerself
It3rd person singularItself
We1st person pluralOurselves
You2nd person pluralYourselves
They3rd person pluralThemselves

You will notice that the form of reflexive and the emphatic pronoun is the same. But emphatic pronouns are different from reflexive pronouns.

What is an emphatic pronoun?

An emphatic pronoun is a pronoun that is used for putting emphasis on the subject or object of a sentence.

For example: We saw the king himself.

The word himself emphasizes the noun King. Therefore, himself is the emphatic pronoun for the object King.

Easy way to identify emphatic pronouns:

A sentence will make complete sense, even without an emphatic pronoun.

For example:

  • I myself will take the bat.

The emphatic pronoun myself emphasizes the subject ‘I’.

If we remove the emphatic pronoun myself, then the new sentence will be:

  • I will take the bike.

The sentence still makes complete sense.

Difference between reflexive and emphatic pronouns:

Reflexive pronouns form the subject, as well as the indirect object of the verb whereas emphatic pronouns simply emphasized on the noun. Reflexive pronouns are used as an object whereas emphatic pronouns are not used as objects. Reflexive pronouns subjects & objects are the same persons whereas emphatic pronouns subjects & objects are not the same persons.

Difference between reflexive and emphatic pronouns in table:
Reflexive PronounsEmphatic Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns form the subject, as well as the indirect object of the verb.Emphatic pronouns simply emphasized on the noun.
Reflexive pronouns are used as an object.Emphatic Pronouns are not used as objects.
In reflexive pronoun Subjects & Objects are the same persons.In Emphatic pronoun Subjects & Objects are not the same persons.
Subject’s action turns back on it.Subject’s action does not turn back on it.
ExamplesExamples
I wrote myself the Assignment.I myself wrote the Assignment.
I treated myself to a icecream.I myself bought the icecream.
They burnt themselves while cooking.You yourself can tell us about the situation.

Some more examples:

  1. I’m going to make a cake for myself.
  2. I cut my beard myself.
  3. She buy a bag for herself.
  4. The dog liked itself.
Recap the important points:
  1. Reflexive pronouns are used when the action done by the subject is reflected back upon the subject.
  2. Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject, or the object of the verb are the same person or the same thing.
  3. Reflexive pronouns are sometimes used for emphasis.
  4. Reflexive pronouns are used after verbs with prepositions to clarify the person or thing being talked about.
  5. Emphatic pronouns are used to emphasize the subject or object in a sentence.
  6. If the emphatic pronoun is removed from the sentence, the sentence will still carry meaning.
  7. The form of reflexive and emphatic pronoun is the same.

I hope you will understand about Reflexive and Emphatic Pronouns.

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