Intensive Pronouns

What are Intensive Pronouns?

Intensive pronouns are pronouns that end in –self or –selves. They function as words of emphasis, “intensifying” the significance of the nouns and pronouns they replace. You may encounter the term “empathic pronouns” which is another name for intensive pronouns due to their nature of referring back to their antecedents that have appeared earlier in sentences. Intensive pronouns are few in number so it’s not a challenge to memorize or recognize them. They include the following: myself, yourself, yourselves, ourselves, himself, herself, itself, and themselves. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Taylor pondered if she herself was the problem.
  • The duck itself courted danger for waddling into the crocodile’s territory.
  • Dylan knew that she herself could create great art, but she hadn’t got the time.
  • No one can make life changes as simple as you yourself. You just need to commit.
  • Kian himself was liable for the parcel’s late arrival, but he blamed others anyway.

Removing intensive pronouns won’t change the meaning of the sentences they’re in. However, they can make speaking and writing more expressive and stimulating, especially in formal English. With that in mind, use them in a calculated way, as overusing them can achieve the opposite result and weaken emphasis.

Intensive Pronouns Rules

A topic on intensive pronouns won’t be complete without including reflexive pronouns. They are identical in form but with a slight difference in function. This, of course, causes confusion to English language learners and causes problems in distinguishing one from the other. Knowing the difference isn’t that significant in speech, as nobody will ask you grammar questions when you’re talking to them. However, proper recognition can be important in writing and English tests. As mentioned, intensive pronouns highlight their antecedents. Meanwhile, reflexive pronouns indicate that the subject and object in a sentence are the same.

Here is a comprehensive list of intensive pronouns:


Intensive PronounExample
MyselfI myself wasn’t aware.
YourselfI can’t believe that you yourself would make such a risk.
HimselfDid he finish the whole cake himself?
HerselfPedrita fixed the problem all by herself.
ItselfThe dog itself chased its tail.
Singular Intensive Pronouns Table


Intensive PronounExample
YourselvesYou yourselves have to realize your purpose.
ThemselvesThey cleaned the house themselves, which was a welcome surprise.
OurselvesWe raised the funds ourselves.
Plural Intensive Pronouns Table
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Examples of Intensive Pronouns

1. The children made the dolls themselves.

2. Marissa herself will fix the plumbing.

3. We painted the entire house ourselves.

4. Guido himself decided to train Malik for the contest.

5. My cat itself pounded on the bowl to demand more food.

6. You don’t need to tell me, I heard it myself.

7. I can’t get over the fact that Lisa organized everything herself.

8. You yourselves should feel good about what you’ve accomplished.

9. Fear itself is a debilitating factor in his own recovery.

10. Aren’t you happy that we decorated the horror room ourselves?

11. To ensure quality, the workers produce the sauce themselves.

12. Yael himself plans to build the cabin as it was his dream to live off-grid.

13. Fine, I will fix the problem myself but you owe me.

14. The president herself presented Justin’s prize.

15. Try to come up with a solution yourself first. I trust you.

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Relative Pronouns Exercises with Answers

Exercise on Relative Pronouns

A. Choose the correct intensive pronoun to fill in the blank in each sentence.

1. His father built the garden shed by ______________.

a. Myself

b. Ourselves

c. Themselves

d. Himself

2. We had no choice but to manage the event ______________ when Rheana bailed.

a. Myself

b. Ourselves

c. Themselves

d. Herself

3. My daughter made _____________ a salad and it was the best salad a 6-year-old could make.

a. Himself

b. Yourself

c. Herself

d. Themselves

4. I’m a little anxious about creating the mold _____________ as I’m not as talented as Travis.

a. Myself

b. Yourself

c. Himself

d. Itself

5. The twins are developing fast; they could sing the alphabet song by _____________.

a. Yourselves

b. Ourselves

c. Herself

d. Themselves

B. Identify if the pronoun in bold is intensive or not in the following sentences.

1. She trained herself not to pay attention to useless things.

2. I could write the paper myself, but it won’t be good for his autonomy.

3. The members themselves went to the business district to distribute the flyers.

4. After a short moment of silence, Nakhai introduced himself to the crowd.

5. You could customize this yourself by filling out this design form.


Exercise A

1. D: His father built the garden shed himself.

2. B: We had no choice but to manage the event ourselves when Rheana bailed.

3. C: My daughter made herself a salad and it was the best salad a 6-year-old could make.

4. A: I’m a little anxious about creating the mold myself as I’m not as talented as Travis.

5. D: The twins are developing fast; they could sing the alphabet song themselves.

Exercise B

1. Not an intensive pronoun

2. Intensive pronoun

3. Not an intensive pronoun

4. Intensive pronoun

5. Intensive pronoun

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Relative Pronouns List

There are only a few intensive pronouns and they’re easy to remember.

  • Myself – represents the writer or speaker
  • Yourself – represents the person the speaker or writer is talking to
  • Itself – represents an animal or thing
  • Himself – represents a male person (may be used with a male animal)
  • Herself – represents a female person (may be used with a female animal)
  • Ourselves – represents a group including the speaker or writer
  • Yourselves – represents the group the speaker or writer is talking to
  • Themselves – represents a group excluding the speaker or writer

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Use Grammar ListsLanguage learning tools such as lists, tables, and charts can serve effectively as grammar guides. They can’t completely replace books, but they are concise versions of grammar concepts, making them easy to use and excellent for reviews and cross-references. The best way to use them is to make your own lists, which will naturally be personalized according to your learning preferences and pace.
Use Audio-Visual ResourcesSelf-studying is unavoidable when learning languages. You can’t rely on traditional English classes alone because you would be considered lucky if you could study more than 3 hours daily and at least 5 days a week. To maximize the time you spend learning independently, you should use the right methods. Mixing English language media into your daily routine is an example. You’ll be exposed to how English speakers (native and non-native) use English in social, academic, and professional situations. This will boost your vocabulary acquisition and sentence construction significantly as long as you consume media with the purpose of picking up language elements from what you are watching or listening to.
Practical UseIt may not have occurred to you, but your teachers can’t speak or use English for you. Neither can books. The only way to achieve fluency in speaking is to use English as often as possible. Over time, you could achieve high levels in grammar but you would still have difficulty talking at length if you don’t practice speaking. Unfortunately, most English students live in places where English isn’t commonly spoken. If this is the case, there’s always a way to make an English environment for yourself. Organize a study group with classmates and friends; and if you can, cultivate friendships with both native and non-native speakers. Daily interactions in English are invaluable in greatly improving your fluency in ways that a book or a classroom lesson can’t.
Table of Advice for English Learners
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Common Errors Made by English Learners

Common ErrorsExplanation/Example
Intensive pronouns as subjectsNever use an intensive pronoun as the subject of a sentence. For example:

– Myself worked in a catering business.

Intensive pronouns emphasize the nouns or pronouns that they are replacing. In this sentence, there is no antecedent so it is incorrect. The correct sentence would be:

– I myself worked in a catering business.
Intensive pronouns as objectsLet’s look at the following sentence:

– Harold bought flowers for mom and myself.

The word “myself” is used as an object here. But it can only be intensive if it emphasizes the subject, which doesn’t in this case. It doesn’t work as a reflexive pronoun as well because the subject and the object are two different people.
Replacing ordinary pronouns with intensive pronounsThere can’t be an intensive pronoun without an antecedent, which is usually the subject of the object of a sentence. Without the presence of one, avoid using the intensive or reflexive forms of pronouns. For example:

– The other members and myself will be at the luncheon.

The words in italics are the compound subject. The correct pronoun would be “I.”

– All our transactions will stay between you and myself.

The words in italics are the compound object. The correct pronoun would be “me.”
Intensive Pronouns Common Errors Table

Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Intensive Pronouns

The following list includes points to remember when studying intensive pronouns:

  1. Intensive pronouns are unnecessary in sentences and can be omitted. The main reason we use it is to highlight something, especially in writing. It’s also stylistically used in speaking to sound more formal. Try removing the pronoun from the sentence. If the sentence still makes sense after doing so, then the pronoun was intensive. If the meaning of the sentence changes or stops making sense, the pronoun you removed was reflexive.
  2. Jokingly referred to as twins, intensive and reflexive pronouns both end in the suffixes –self or –selves. Nonetheless, it’s easy to tell them apart. If the subject and the object of the sentence are the same, then the pronoun is reflexive.
  3. We use “by” with intensive pronouns to mean doing something alone or without anybody else’s help.
  4. There are verbs called reflexive verbs because they can only be used with reflexive pronouns. You can’t use pronouns intensively with them: enjoy, introduce, teach, prepare, train, hurt, amuse, cut, dry, and kill.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand relative pronouns and reflexive pronouns.

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Intensive Pronouns Frequently Asked Questions

There are 8: myself, yourself, ourselves, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves. Take note that reflexive pronouns have the same form and are only different in function.

Since intensive and reflexive pronouns look the same, you need to be able to identify them by their specific uses. Intensive pronouns highlight their antecedents but are ultimately unnecessary to a sentence. If you take them out, the sentence will retain its meaning. Reflexive pronouns on the other hand “reflect” their subjects back, which means the subject and object are the same.

We all know that pronouns replace or substitute nouns, and sometimes other pronouns. Intensive pronouns that replace subjects that are only one in number (single, in short) are singular intensive pronouns: myself, yourself, himself, herself, and itself.


1. We are solving the puzzle ourselves, so you can sit down.
2. I’m not quite sure if she’s okay, but will stay there by herself all month.
3. The man himself was the one who snuck through the back door.
4. The kids themselves prepared a birthday breakfast for their mom.
5. Jade doesn’t believe in ghosts but her bedroom door sometimes opens by itself.


1. My boyfriend introduced himself to my friends with charm and confidence.
2. Binad cut himself while he was chucking oysters for the cookout.
3. I’m proud to say my wife trained herself in the use of construction tools.
4. We amused ourselves by playing a fun game while we waited for the doctor.
5. They taught themselves hunting for mandatory military camp training.

No. Although reflexive pronouns refer back to their subjects or antecedents, the reflexive form can only be used as objects.

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