Reflexive pronouns

June 11th, 20124:38 am


Reflexive pronouns

Reflexive pronouns point out that the doer of an action is identical with the object of this action. In modern English there is a distinct tendency to drop reflexive pronouns if this omission does not affect the meaning of the utterance: In the morning I wash (myself), dress (myself) and have my break­fast. Alongside of the verbs that may function both with and without an ob­ject, there are verbs with which the object is obligatory. The use of a reflex­ive pronoun in this case indicates that an action is performed on the doer: cf. to amuse oneself, to enjoy oneself, to reconcile oneself. Besides there is a small group of verbs that may not be used without a reflexive pronoun, e.g. to absent oneself, to busy oneself to pride oneself, to avoid oneself.

It should be noted that besides the meaning of the doer of an action iden­tical with its object, the reflexive pronouns may also function for the sake of emphasis. If it is the case, the reflexive pronouns either immediately follow the subject or, which is more typical, follow the verbal phrase: I myself was surprised, I didn’t expect it myself.

The reflexive pronouns are structurally discrete, in which they differ from the groups analyzed above. The reflexive pronouns consist of the stem, identical with the possessive pronoun or with the personal pronoun in the objective case, and the pronoun self: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.

As one may notice, the reflexive pronouns have the categories of person, number, and (in the third person singular) gender. It should be stressed that the reflexive pronouns are the only pronominal group that has preserved the morphologically distinct difference between singular and plural of the second person —yourself vs. yourselves.

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