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Using a personal pronoun instead of a reflexive one... This is a frequent mistake, that even natives frequently make... In the heat and enthusiasm of conversation, one pronoun is frequently used for the other... Let's come back on the rules to apply...
1) A personal pronoun replaces a noun for a specific person or object.
Personal pronouns can be subjects of a verb, and placed before the verb: I, you, he/ she/ it, we, you, they.
They may also be complements, placed after it: me, you, him/ her/ it, us, you, them.
- Listen to Linda, she's singing so beautifully, we should all listen to her.
The action of listening and the action of singing are not done by the same person. Several people are acting: the subject is telling someone to listen to Linda who is singing. ( a third person in the feminine.)
2) Reflexive pronouns are always in the same person as the subject. A reflexive pronoun is a word that 'reflects back' to its antecedent.
They are: myself, yourself, himself/ herself/ itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.
The person who's acting is BOTH the subject and the complement of the verb describing the action. One person only is acting.
- Look at yourself in the mirror and you'll see that you have red ink on your nose...
➡️ For an "easy" and usual task, the use of a reflexive pronoun at the end of a clause insists on the "performance" realised by the subject of the action. It was done without anybody's help; it is also possible to put "by" before the reflexive pronoun in order to insist on the fact that the action was done alone. ("all by" emphasises the effect even more). The pronoun then becomes an intensive pronoun.
- It's the first time little Paul has washed himself. He's very proud of it.
- The old lady carried her heavy case by herself / all by herself, which she shouldn't have done.
➡️ A reflexive pronoun must be used when the complement is the same person (or object) as the subject of the verb of the clause.
- As he wanted to be able to communicate during his holiday in Tuscany, John taught himself the bases of everyday Italian.
➡️ Most transitive verbs may be used with a reflexive pronoun:
- I blame myself for being late./ He introduced himself to my group of friends.
➡️ A reflexive pronoun is used after a noun or a pronoun to focus on the person, or the object. Then, it emphasises what is said.
- I myself have never used that app, but my friends have told me it's great!
Here are the main instances when reflexive pronouns shoud be used. In a conversation, try not be too hasty... The following test should help you train overcome the little difficulty. Go for it, with THE FORCE!
English exercise "Reflexive pronouns" created by here4u with The test builder. [More lessons & exercises from here4u]
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