You vs. Yourself in English Grammar

When to Use 'You' and 'Yourself'

'Yourself' is a second person singular reflexive pronoun, 'you' is the second person personal pronoun both singular and plural. Can they be interchangeable?

You vs. Yourself

Why the Confusion?

Sometimes people confuse or misuse the pronouns 'you' and 'yourself' to maybe sound sophisticated or educated. But these two pronouns are not interchangeable.

You

Depending on its role in a sentence, 'you' can be:

  • a subject pronoun

You told me to keep it a secret .

Here, 'you' is the subject of the sentence.

  • an object pronoun

I'm telling you I'm not going anywhere .

Here, 'you' is the object of the sentence.

  • object of preposition

I'll be standing right next to you .

Here, 'you' is the object of the preposition.

  • a predicative after the verb 'be'

Admit it Jake ! It was you .

Here, 'you' is the predicative of the verb 'be'.

Other Uses

Addressing Directly

'You' can also be used with some noun and adjectives to speak to somebody directly.

You guys , listen to me !

I hate you , you big idiot !

Generic You

'You' in its plural sense, can refer to people in general. It is similar to the impersonal pronoun 'one' in this sense.

You can find love when you expect it the least .

Yourself

'Yourself' is the reflexive form of the singular 'you' and can only be used when the pronoun 'you' has already been used in the sentence once. If there are any other pronouns, except 'you', you’re not allowed to use 'yourself'. See the examples below:

Have you hurt yourself ?

I need a word with yourself .

Implied 'You' in Imperatives

In imperative sentences, the subject 'you' is implied and often omitted, therefore it is ok to use 'yourself'. For example:

Do it yourself ! → You do it yourself !

Enjoy yourself ! → You enjoy yourself !

You as an Emphatic Pronoun

Other than being a reflexive pronoun, 'yourself' can also be an emphatic pronoun. You can use it to put emphasis on the 'you' part.

You yourself are the one who said that .

Is Yourself More Polite?

Sometimes people use 'yourself' instead of 'you' in order to sound polite or formal. But it is technically wrong. However, people do use it in spoken language.

We don't see many gentlemen nowadays , like yourself .

And yourself , what do you do for a living ?

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