In the sentence "Go help yourself", is 'yourself' both the direct object and the subject?

Can a subject and direct object be the exact same word in a sentence? If not, what is 'yourself' here?

  • 1
    'yourself' is the object. You could easily replace it with any other object, without it becoming the subject.
    – AndyT
    Apr 9, 2019 at 10:38
  • 1
    If you're new at the English language (which you say you are), why are you asking about obscenities? You could just as easily have used the inoffensive "Go try yourself", or similar.
    – BillJ
    Apr 9, 2019 at 10:50
  • 1
    @BillJ Fully agree with the sentiment, but "[Go and ] Do it yourself" would be a more useful example
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2019 at 11:12
  • It's funny isn't it? We get users deleting the terms "coloured girls", "gay" and "Down syndrome" because someone is or might be offended, yet whenever someone uses obscene language, gratuitously, we leave it be for fear of being called snobs or prigs. I am offended by the question, does that count? -1
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 9, 2019 at 11:15
  • @Mari-LouA Quite so, I initially put "do it", and then for some stupid reason changed it. Thanks for pointing that out.
    – BillJ
    Apr 9, 2019 at 11:25

3 Answers 3


You are almost right.

This sentence is simply an imperative clause.

As in: Go help your sister or Please help your sister.

The subject in these sentences is you-but when we actually say the you, the sentence is more commanding/ emphasized, as in you go help your sister, etc.

the pronoun yourself is a reflexive pronoun and we use it when the subject and the object of the clause are the same, so in a way you are right, though a in your sentence you is the subject


(Someone else answered while I was writing this, but it gives more complete information.)

"Yourself" is a reflexive pronoun functioning as a direct object, used here with an imperative verb. The British Council's Learn English says "We use a reflexive pronoun: as a direct object when the object is the same as the subject of the verb". "Yourself" refers to the subject and object, but grammatically it's the object.

The verb is an imperative form, which doesn't take a subject (hence no subject here), but it's more complex than a usual imperative, which can be one word (e.g. "Die!") or verb plus object ("Hit him!"). "Go X" where X is also a verb is a colloquial equivalent to "go and X" (see under "go and" here) - hence "go fuck yourself" equals "go and fuck yourself"; Macmillan dictionaries gives "go and do something"="used for telling someone to do something, especially when you are annoyed".


Yes, "yourself" is both the subject and the direct object of the verb. This is the usual case with reflexive constructions. "Please, sit yourself down, and make yourself comfortable" is another example of a reflexive construction, though perhaps not heard as frequently as the one you gave.

  • The question is about the grammatical slots of subject and object, not the referents. The subject is missing (it is imperative, yielding an implied 2nd person) and the object 'yourself' is the reflexive word. These are distinct things. Of course, they refer to the same individual (the 2nd person), but since subject and object are mentioned, that's not what is being asked.
    – Mitch
    Apr 9, 2019 at 15:40

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