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.
Depending on its role in a sentence, 'you' can be:
- a subject pronoun
Here, 'you' is the subject of the sentence.
- an object pronoun
Here, 'you' is the object of the sentence.
- object of preposition
Here, 'you' is the object of the preposition.
- a predicative after the verb 'be'
Here, 'you' is the predicative of the verb 'be'.
'You' can also be used with some noun and adjectives to speak to somebody directly.
'You' in its plural sense, can refer to people in general. It is similar to the impersonal pronoun 'one' in this sense.
'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:
Implied 'You' in Imperatives
In imperative sentences, the subject 'you' is implied and often omitted, therefore it is ok to use 'yourself'. For example:
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.
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.