Reflexive Verbs

Reflexive verbs are verbs that are used transitively to reflect back to the subject. Let us learn more. Follow the article.

"Reflexive Verbs" in the English Grammar

What Are Reflexive Verbs?

'Reflexive verbs' transfer the action of the verb to the direct object and reflect it back to the subject of the sentence.

Why Do We Use Reflexive Verbs?

'Reflexive verbs' are only used when the subject and the direct object of the verb are the 'same.' It means the doer and the receiver of the action are the same.
Take a look at the examples to get to know them.

Sara called herself to find her cellphone.

The dog washed itself under the shower.

How Can You Define Reflexive Sentences?

'Reflexive' sentences are made of three main parts. Check this list out:

Subjects of Reflexive Verbs

Any kind of subject can be used as the subject of a reflexive verb. Check the examples out for more clarification:

He washed himself in the bathtub.

The cat licked itself to cure the wound.

Reflexive Verbs

'Reflexive verbs' are transitive verbs since they all need a direct object to be meaningful, on the contrary, transitive verbs are not all considered reflexive. Check out the examples:

I cut myself with a knife.

✗ I ate myself.

Therefore, it is important to determine which transitive verbs are reflexive based on their intended meaning in a given context.

Prepositions with Reflexive Verbs

There are several 'prepositions' that can be used after a reflexive verb and before a reflexive pronoun. Some common examples include 'To, for, of, at, and about' Check out the examples for more clarification:

He was talking to himself.

Just look at yourself in the mirror.

He always boasted about himself.

The old woman prayed for herself.

After prepositions of place, we are not allowed to use a reflexive pronoun. After these prepositions, we use 'objective pronouns.' Check out the following examples.

✓ I told him to stand behind me.

✗ I told him to stand behind myself.


When you use the preposition 'by' in combination with a reflexive verb, it creates an emphatic sentence using reflexive pronouns, so no reflexive sentence is formed. One way to differentiate between emphatic and reflexive sentences is by checking whether the reflexive pronoun can be omitted or not. If the reflexive pronoun can be omitted, it indicates an emphatic sentence. Check out these examples:

I did the dishes by myself.

In this example; there is an emphatic sentence.

She threw the party all by herself.


Sometimes using reflexive pronouns after verbs can change the meaning of the entire verbal phrase. In some cases, the new phrase may have a slight resemblance to the main verb when used alone. Check out the examples:

She found the book.

She finds herself funny.

using a reflexive verb in a sentence

There is a list of these verbs on the following table:

Help help yourself
Find find yourself
Enjoy enjoy yourself

Reflexive Pronouns

The last step to make a meaningful reflexive sentence is to add a reflexive pronoun following the reflexive verb. Reflexive pronouns reflect back to the subject. Here are the reflexive pronouns:

Check out the examples:

They introduced themselves to the villagers.

Hanna tried to encourage herself.


'Reflexive verbs' are transitive verbs that redirect a clause back to the subject. The important point is to know that the object and the subject are the same.
'Reflexive sentences' are formed with three main factors

  1. subject
  2. reflexive verb
  3. reflexive pronoun (object)

Reflexive verbs follow the subjects and they themselves are followed by reflexive pronouns. Here is the formula to make it easy for you to make sentences:

  • Subject + reflexive verbs + reflexive pronouns (object)

I made myself fell better.

She trained herself to sleep on her back.


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