“Self” Words

Margie Wakeman Wells Good Grammar, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I have had a request to explain pronouns that end in self/selves. This is a category of words called “compound personal pronouns.” They are

myself, ourselves
…yourself, yourselves
…himself, herself, itself, themselves

First, let’s say that there are several mistakes made in the way these words are said.

Plural mistakes:

…ourselves, not ourself
…themselves, not themself¬† or theirself

Form mistakes:

…himself, not hisself
…themselves, not theirselves

[Are you ready for a little grammar? Yay — my favorite.]

These words are used as reflexive or intensive pronouns.

Reflexive: With this use, the word has a grammatical function in the sentence and can thus not be removed. There are no punctuation issues.

…I saved it for myself. (object of the preposition)
…She included herself in the list. (direct object)

Intensive: With this use, the word is an appositive. It renames a noun and makes it more “intense,” stronger and can be removed from the sentence without changing the meaning. These rarely need commas.

…I myself do not believe a word of his testimony.
…We gave it to Mary herself.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

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