Enlisting the Differences Between Intensive and Reflexive Pronouns

Difference Between Intensive and Reflexive Pronouns
Pronouns like myself, yourself, ourselves, etc., can be used as both intensive, as well as reflexive pronouns. Identifying the two types, can therefore be very difficult. This Penlighten post explains both the types and their difference, with the help of various examples.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2018
Funniest Usage of a Reflexive Pronoun
Incorrect: I cooked myself.
Correct: I cooked it myself.
A pronoun is a part of speech which is used to replace a noun, noun phrase, or a noun clause in a sentence. For example, "Sheena is a brave girl. She saved the baby from drowning." From this example, the pronoun "she" replaces the noun "Sheena". This eases the flow of language, by helping us avoid the repetition of the noun.
Without the pronoun, it would have been "Sheena is a brave girl. Sheena saved the baby from drowning", which would have just been clumsy. Pronouns, therefore, form an important part of the English language.
The usage of pronouns can sometimes be very confusing, especially the usage of intensive and reflexive pronouns. The two types contain exactly the same list of pronouns i.e., myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, yourselves, ourselves, and themselves. They differ only because of their usage. Let us see how.
What are Intensive Pronouns?
Intensive pronouns are used to add emphasis to the subject. For example, "I myself saw him do it." In this sentence, 'myself' adds emphasis to the subject 'I'. The omission of intensive pronouns from a sentence does not change the meaning of the sentence.
For example, if you remove 'myself' from the earlier mentioned sentence, its meaning will remain the same. These pronouns include myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, yourselves, ourselves, and themselves. They are also referred to as emphatic pronouns or emphasizing pronouns.
✤ You yourself can be the best judge.
✤ Linda herself said so.
✤ They are themselves guilty.
✤ He himself is not a good person.
✤ She herself wrote me this letter.
Identifying Intensive Pronouns
Intensive pronouns are generally placed right beside the noun or the pronoun they are emphasizing. For example, in the sentence, "The President himself wrote me a letter", the pronoun 'himself' is placed right next to the noun 'President'. Therefore, it is an intensive pronoun.
They are used only to lay emphasis, and their omission does not change the meaning of the sentence. If we remove 'himself' from the earlier mentioned sentence, it becomes "The President wrote me a letter." Therefore, the meaning of the sentence remains the same.
What are Reflexive Pronouns?
Reflexive pronouns turn the action done by the subject, back to the subject. They are used to refer to the subject in the sentence or clause, and show that the object is same as the subject. Reflexive pronouns are myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, yourselves, ourselves, and themselves.
✤ Dave was watching himself on TV.
✤ You cannot blame yourself.
✤ You are hurting yourself.
✤ He introduced himself.
✤ Linda prepared herself.
Identifying Reflexive Pronouns
It is called a reflexive pronoun when the subject is doing something to itself, and not to someone or something else. For example, in the sentence "The Johnsons love themselves", 'themselves' is a reflexive pronoun, since 'The Johnsons' love 'The Johnsons'. This means that the subject is same as the object, making it a reflexive pronoun.
However, in the sentence "The Johnsons love them" implies that 'The Johnsons' love someone else, implying that the object is different from the subject, the reason why 'them' is not a reflexive pronoun.
Comparison Between Intensive and Reflexive Pronouns
Intensive Pronouns
❖ Add emphasis to the subject.

❖ Omission of intensive pronouns from a sentence, doesn't change the meaning of the sentence.

❖ Occur in the beginning of a sentence.

❖ Are placed after a noun or a pronoun.

Examples:
• I myself did the laundry.
• She herself came and told me so.
Reflexive Pronouns
❖ Revert to the subject.

❖ Omission of reflexive pronouns from a sentence, changes the meaning of the sentence.

❖ Occur at the end of a sentence.

❖ Are placed after a verb or preposition.

Examples:
• You are surely going to hurt yourself.
• Sally pinched herself.
That's how simple the differentiation between intensive and reflexive pronouns is. Still confused? Then you can practice with the help of the numerous worksheets that are available on the Internet. A little practice will surely help you learn the usage of both the types, as well as make it easier to differentiate between them.