Compound personal pronouns

Reflexive pronouns are, in fact, compound personal pronouns because they are formed by the addition of the suffix ‘self’ (singular) or ‘selves’ (plural) to the following pronouns.

My + self – myself

Him + self – himself

Your + self – yourself (singular) / yourselves (plural)

Her + self – herself

Them + selves – themselves

It + self – itself

Our + selves – ourselves

A reflexive pronoun is so called when the action of the subject reflects upon itself.

In a sentence the person who performs the action is called the subject and the person who receives the action of the subject is called the object.

Consider the sentence given below.

The poor widow killed herself. (NOT The poor widow killed her.)

Here the person who performs the action and the person who receives the action are one and the same. In other words, in this sentence the subject and the object denote the same person.

I cut myself while shaving. (NOT I cut me while shaving.)

When self is used independently, it is a noun, not a pronoun.

Consider the example given below.

An honest man keeps his self free from all vices.

One’s self is always more important to one than anything else.

When the compound personal pronoun is used to lay emphasis on a particular person or thing, they are called emphatic pronouns.

Study the example given below.

Sophia herself cleaned the table. (Subject – she; verb – cleaned; object – the table)

Here the word ‘herself’ is merely used to emphasize the fact that the action was performed by Sophia.

The sentence ‘Sophia cleaned the table’ would mean the same. It just doesn’t put emphasis on the word Sophia.

More examples are given below.

The manager himself said this. (More emphatic than ‘The manager said this.’)


Emphatic pronouns cannot be used as subjects or objects. Therefore it is wrong to say:

Peter and I went there. (NOT Peter and myself went there.)

I invited her to tea. (NOT I invited herself to tea.)