Reflective Pronouns in Linguistics

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Reflective Pronouns in Linguistics

Reflective Pronouns in Linguistics

Reflective Pronouns

The English reflexive pronouns involve using myself, yourself, himself/herself/itself in their singular forms and respective plurals: myself, yourself, and themselves. They are reflective pronouns considering that they tend to reflect and restate another pronoun or noun, which has already been stated. Moreover, reflective pronouns are used both as direct and indirect whenever the object is similar to the verb.

I injured myself when I fell (in the sentence, the direct object is hurt and restates the subject I)

You have to tell yourself not to forget her birthday (in the sentence, indirect object is “must tell” restating the subject you).

John cut himself with a paring knife (in the sentence, direct object of cut tends to restate the subject John)

The reflective pronouns are used in various cases including when the subject and the object are similar, as the object of the preposition whenever the subject and the object are similar, and when there is, need to emphasize the subject.

Optional reflexives

Using reflective pronouns assist in the prevention of repeating the subject. For example:

Mary still does not trust Kim near her/herself

The committee members argued amongst them/themselves for about two hours

The taxi driver pulled the boy near him/himself

In the examples, the subject is identified as the antecedents of the reflective pronoun. Even though the self-forms used in the example find their antecedents in similar clauses, these forms are not obligatory. However, they are replaceable with the corresponding personal pronouns. The change causes slight change in the perspective under expression.

Alternation with zero

English differs from German languages with zero pronouns. As a result, there is implication of relative pronoun but not explicitly written or spoken. Such measure is applicable in the restrictive relative clauses only as the alternative to the voice. For example:

John built the house that I was born in; John built the house I was born in

She is the woman whom I saw; she is the woman I saw

In such cases, it is impossible for the zero relative pronoun to be the subject of the verb within the relative clause. Therefore, it is impossible to omit the clauses if the zero pronouns are the subject. For example, it is possible to say

The man built the house that sits on the mountain; but not the man built the house sits on the hill

Unexpected personal pronouns

In English, there are sentences with peculiar sentence structures. Such cases involve override reflexes which occur whenever there is more usual non-reflective within the restricted range of contexts with no close structural relation that occur between the reflective and the antecedent. Moreover, it involves the speaker using reflective pronoun in the place of an accusative pronoun with the informal usage meant for emphasis.

My friend and myself had to figure out the design.

A person like yourself should not have any problem handling such mathematics.

The award was given to my friend and myself.

Inherently reflective verbs

The latter involves using reflective pronouns, which do not contrast with the other noun phrase; therefore, it is the possible object of the relevant verb. Moreover, these sentences imply that reflective pronouns do not have referent making it meaningless. In English, the inherently reflective verbs include to avail oneself of something, to pride oneself, to perjure oneself, and to absent oneself from. For example;

Most people purchase luxury cars to pride oneself.

To absent oneself from the competition, it is important to alert the teacher.