Definition 2022


reflexive pronoun



reflexive pronoun (plural reflexive pronouns)

  1. In English: A personal pronoun, having a form of "self" as a suffix to show that the subject's action affects the subject itself.
  2. In many languages: a pronoun that makes a transitive verb reflexive or reciprocal.
    Spanish: Él se lavó He washed (himself).
    Él lavó He washed (something).
    Russian: Он помы́лся He washed (himself).
    Он помы́л He washed (something).

Usage notes

While English distinguishes neatly between reflexive pronouns and reciprocal pronouns (such as “each other”), in many languages this is not the case. Reflexive pronouns in these languages can also express reciprocal senses when the context is unambiguous. Such pronouns are still commonly referred to as reflexive pronouns although they are not “reflexive” in the strict sense of the word.


Derived terms

See also