I need an answer for a question that has been bugging me for a while. So, I understand that reflexive pronouns needs to have a subject to refer to, or to be the reflection of. Then lately I've come across a sentence using a reflexive pronoun which was grammatically correct, but with the absence of the antecedent. So can a reflexive pronoun be used without an antecedent like this?

There is a picture of myself on the wall.

  • 3
    I think that it should be "There is a picture of me on the wall", but I'm not sure. Using myself when you should use me is a common error.
    – Mick
    Sep 30, 2016 at 2:31
  • 1
    You should indicate the source of the sentence if you can.
    – Mick
    Sep 30, 2016 at 2:48
  • books.google.com.sa/…
    – Fay
    Oct 1, 2016 at 13:32
  • Glancing at your link, the course materials in it seem to be showing commonly-made mistakes as correct English. As counter-examples, they would be wonderful. "This is what the British do - learn to do better" (and I would fully approve of such an attitude).
    – Mick
    Oct 1, 2016 at 13:40
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    @tchrist: it's not a duplicate. "Herself" in "I gave Susie a picture of herself" has an antecedent "Susie" while "myself" in this example does not have any antecedent.
    – herisson
    Dec 6, 2016 at 20:52

3 Answers 3


There are many uses for the word myself, and to treat it as only a reflexive pronoun is too prescriptive — so prescriptive, in fact, that it would be wrong. The use you give is indeed accepted as correct English, but for a rather tricky reason.

Nonetheless, use of one-word myself to stand in for two-word my self is established and generally accepted: "You seem like a better version of myself" would not normally be objected to, and "I just want to be myself" is perfectly fine.

(From Slate.com)

The first example that they give is exactly the use you're asking about. It's where myself means what it literally describes, my self. Suppose you were going to say my friend instead of myself. That would make sense, wouldn't it?

There is a picture of my friend on the wall.

There is a picture of myself on the wall. same logic

The word is simply being used in a different function than a reflexive pronoun. It's more like a contraction of the two word phrase my self. So it is indeed correct. The Slate.com article gives a lot of examples of both correct and incorrect usage.


This is a good, authoritative explanation of the use of reflexive pronouns.

As you can see by following the link reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and object of the verb are the same. For example "I cut myself with a knife"; "They locked themselves out of their house" and so on.

In the sentence quoted the subject of the sentence is "there" and there isn't a object since the verb "to be" does not take an object. The word "myself" is being used as part of an adjectival phrase which describes the picture and, as it is a phrase and not a clause, has neither subject nor object so the use of the reflexive pronoun is incorrect.

This means that the sentence is not grammatically correct. The correct word is "me" as @MickSharp said in his comment.

  • Sorry, I had to -1 your post because that BC webpage is not good! Nov 29, 2016 at 15:01

Evidently, the answer is "yes". You've given a citation where a reflexive is used with no apparent antecedent, so obviously it can be used this way. It has been used this way, in your example.

Perhaps it's clear that I am puzzled by the question. And I am even more puzzled when I see some people answering No to your question. It's paradoxical to claim that something you've just witnessed happen can't happen.

  • 1
    This isn't an answer about the English language, it's simply a quibble about the logic of the question. Jun 22, 2020 at 9:53

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