Reflexive Verbs – Examples

We are all acquainted with the definition and meaning of verbs. They are one of the eight parts of speech, and they help us describe actions that we can perform. In a simple sense, they express what someone or something does.

While a verb basically aims at describing an action, different categories can help identify different types of actions performed on different objects. One such unique category of verbs is called reflexive verbs. A reflexive verb is a type of verb which helps express “who is performing what and to whom”.

However, reflexive verbs are not a set of words like any other type. Instead, they depend on the words used in a sentence to determine whether a verb is reflective or not. It might seem a bit confusing. But it is not hard to learn. So, let us discuss with some examples to understand better.

What are reflexive verbs?

When we talk about verbs, they are usually words like eating, run, jump, hop, etc., that describe an act. They are used in a sentence to show what the subject does. But that is not the case with reflexive verbs. Reflexive verbs are different in that matter.

Reflexive verbs are not their own words with conjugation patterns that we use in a sentence. Instead, one has to depend on the other words used in a sentence to realize whether a verb is reflexive or not. So, what exactly are reflexive verbs?

A verb is said to be reflexive when its subject and the object both are the same. Now, we know that the subject of a sentence is the performer, and the object is the receiver of the subject’s action. This means reflexive verbs are the verbs that describe an action that the actor performs on or to itself.

Let us understand with some examples.

The teacher was talking to herself.

Here, talking is the verb, and the teacher is the subject. At first, it seems like a normal action verb performed by the subject. But as we notice the following words and identify who the object is, we realize that the verb is reflexive in nature because the object herself indicates the subject teacher. Which means it is an action being performed by and to itself.

How do we identify reflexive verbs?

Now, since we know reflexive verbs are not their own words, the question of how do we know whether a verb is reflexive or not is important.

To identify a reflexive verb, the easiest trick is to recognize the reflexive pronouns. If a sentence contains a reflexive pronoun like myself, himself, themselves, etc., then the verb of the subject will always be reflexive. For example,

  • I taught myself dancing.
  • Sarah wrote herself a letter.

Here, we see the sentences contain reflexive pronouns like myself and herself. When they are present in a sentence, they ultimately become the object of the verb and the verb in that sentence becomes a reflexive verb.

Also, sometimes when a sentence directly addresses the subject like “Don’t hurt yourself,” the verb will still be reflexive in nature even when the subject is omitted from the sentence.

So, reflexive verbs are indeed a unique category of verbs. They help indicate verbs where the performer and the receiver are the same with the help of the words used in the sentence.

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