The words myself, yourself, himself and the like usually function as reflexive pronouns. However, they are also used in context that do not fulfill the common definitions of reflexive. Neither the "agent = patient" paradigm, nor the "agent = grammatical object" definition.

The author read the book himself.

What part of speech are those self referential words and why?

  • If "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" is okay, there's no reason why this author shouldn't sit right down and read himself the book. Nov 12, 2013 at 2:27
  • @fumblefingers: I didn't say that it wasn't okay. However, then "himself" should be either before the book or connected using "to". As it stands here, the sentence will not be interpreted as reflexive by 99 percent of the people
    – Emanuel
    Nov 12, 2013 at 9:26

2 Answers 2


It’s an intensive or emphatic pronoun.

Per Wikipedia:

Intensive pronouns, also known as emphatic pronouns, re-emphasize a noun or pronoun that has already been mentioned. English uses the same forms as the reflexive pronouns; for example: I did it myself (contrast reflexive use, I did it to myself).


Reflexive pronouns are when you repeat the subject to make it seem more important. Jonathan himself answered this question. Intensive pronouns (which is the part of speech in your sentence) intensify the noun by re-emphasising it after a certain amount of time (words). Intensive is the other usage of those pronouns.

  • so you're saying that "The author himself read the book" has a reflexive pronoun, while "the author read the book himself" has an intensive one? That doesn't make sense...
    – Emanuel
    Nov 12, 2013 at 1:27
  • 2
    Reflexive pronouns is not “when you repeat the subject to make it seem more important”, but when either the object or the predicative in a clause refers to the same entity as the subject. Nov 12, 2013 at 1:27

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.