Ours vs. Ourselves

What is the difference between 'ours' and 'ourselves'? 'He's a friend of ours,' or 'He's a friend of ourselves'. Which of these two sentences is correct?

"Ours" vs. "Ourselves" in the English Grammar

What Might Cause the Confusion?

'Ours' and 'ourselves' are both first-person plural pronouns. But 'ours' is the possessive pronoun, and 'ourselves' is the reflexive pronoun. Therefore, they have different functions and cannot be used interchangeably.

Ours

When you use 'ours' you refer to something that belongs to both yourself and to one or more other people. It is called a possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns are used when we want to show who owns or is associated with a thing.

Those magazines are ours.

'Ours' is a possessive pronoun replacing the phrase 'our magazines' to avoid repetition.

Ourselves

'Ourselves' is the first-person plural reflexive pronoun. When you use 'ourselves', you refer to yourself and one or more other people as a group.

We really enjoyed ourselves on our trip to Hawaii.

Here, 'ourselves' is the reflexive form of 'we' or 'us'.

Same Subject and Object

When the subject and object of the verb refer to the same group of people, we use 'ourselves' as the object of a verb or preposition.

If we couldn't calm ourselves down soon, there would've been a disaster.

Emphasis

Sometimes, we use 'ourselves' to emphasize the first-person plural subject.

We ourselves will finish it.

Here, 'ourselves' is an intensifier, emphasizing the subject 'we'.

'Ourselves' instead of 'Us'

Sometimes, for emphasis, you can use 'ourselves' instead of 'us' as the object of a verb or preposition. It is considered more formal and somehow not used often in spoken English.

People like ourselves should be brave warriors, not some coward nobodys.

He is a friend of ourselves.

The more accurate and acceptable sentence would be 'He is a friend of us'.

We can use 'ourselves' after the linking verbs like 'be, seem, appear, etc. to mean our real or normal selves. In this way, 'our' acts as a determiner and 'selves' as a noun, so they can be separated by other words.

We are ourselves when we are united.

We are not our true selves when we are apart.

Though it is not considered standard English, we can use 'ourselves' instead of 'we' or 'us' in compound noun phrases.

Other students and ourselves must state our complaints.

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