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- Forms
- Use
- Referring to possessives and objects
- By oneself
- Verbs not normally used with reflexive pronouns
- Pronominal verbs in some languages
- Note for Spanish speakers



Myself... Reflexive pronouns
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Reflexive pronouns: Myself, yourself...
Level: Level: Medium

Myself, yourself...: Reflexive pronouns



These forms are used with transitive verbs when the subject and the object are the same person (when the person doing the action and receiving the action are the same)

- I cut bread = I cut // the bread is cut
- I cut myself = I cut // I was cut
- Megan's looking at herself in the mirror = Megan is looking, and what she sees is... Megan

- please, tell me about yourselves
- We are giving ourselves a rest
- Are you talking to yourself?
- They only think about themselves

Reflexive pronouns can also refer to possessives and objects

- His songs are always talking about himself
- She dressed as a zombie for Halloween, but her dress was only scaring herself
- I'm going to tell her a few things about herself
- The psychoanalyst helped me to get to know me myself better

BY ONESELF means "alone, without company" or "without help"

- She is living in a flat by herself (= alone)
- Look, I did it by myself (= without help)
"All by oneself" is the emphatic form
- I learned to drive all by myself (= completely without help, just me alone)

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Many verbs are used in the reflexive form in other languages, but not in English.

- This morning I didn't shave (we don't say: I shaved myself, but simply, I shaved)
- I sat on the sofa (you can: say I sat myself, but it sounds very formal or old-fashioned)
- She got dressed (not usually: she dressed herself)
- I woke up (not: I woke myself up)
- I fell down (not: I fell myself down, because the verb "to fall" is not transitive, so it has no object, so it can't use a reflexive form)

But these transitive verbs which do not normally use reflexive forms, can use it when we need to make clear who is doing what to whom

- Barbers shave people who don't want to shave themselves (if you don't say "themselves", the object of that second "shave" is not clear)
- She is old enough to dress herself
- He can't bend his knees, so he can't sit himself down, he needs help.

PRONOMINAL VERBS: Some languages, such as Spanish, French or Italian, use reflexive forms for many verbs even when there is no reflexive idea. In these cases you can't use a reflexive pronoun in English.

I broke my leg (I did the action, my leg received the action, so it is not a transitive idea):
- Je me suis cassé la jambe
- Me he roto la pierna
- Mi sono rotto la gamba

I remember it (I do the action, "it" is the object)
- Je me souviens
- Me acuerdo


Note for Spanish speakers

El problema es que las formas españolas equivalentes (me-te-nos, etc) se usan para muchas otras cosas además del reflexivo, y en muchas ocasiones no se traduce porque no significa nada (verbos pronominales). Sólo podemos usar las formas reflexivas cuando el sujeto y el objeto son la misma persona:

- ayer me caí =yesterday I fell down  (pronominal)
- él se rió mucho = él rió mucho = he laughed a lot (pronominal)
- ella se lava la cara =she washes her face (ella lava, su cara es lo lavado) (pronominal)
- ella se pintó de rojo =she painted herself red (ella pinta, ella es "la cosa" pintada) (reflexive)
- esto se puso aquí =this was put here (pasiva refleja: esto fue puesto aquí)
- me llamo Juan =I am called John (pasiva refleja: yo soy llamado Juan)


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