What Are Intensive Pronouns? (with Examples)

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What Are Intensive Pronouns? (with Examples)

The intensive pronouns (also called emphatic pronouns) are myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves.

These words can be either intensive pronouns or reflexive pronouns.

This page is about their use as intensive pronouns.

Using Intensive Pronouns

An intensive pronoun refers back to another noun (or pronoun) in the sentence to emphasize it. For example:
  • The mayor himself attended the ceremony.
  • (The mayor is the noun being intensified. It is called the antecedent of the intensive pronoun.)
When used for emphasis, a word like himself is called an intensive pronoun (which is also known as an emphatic pronoun).

Examples of Intensive Pronouns

Here are some examples of intensive pronouns:
  • She will do it herself.
  • (The intensive pronoun herself emphasizes that she will do it. Her husband won't do it. Her son won't do it. SHE will do it.)
  • The boys baked these scones themselves.
  • (The intensive pronoun themselves emphasizes that the boys baked the scones, i.e., not their mothers.)
  • I heard the lie myself.
  • (The intensive pronoun myself emphasizes that I heard the lie.)
Note: It's not always about people:
  • The dog opened the cupboard itself.
You can test if it's an intensive pronoun by removing it and seeing if you get the same effect by emphasizing the thing you're trying to emphasize with your voice (shown here in uppercase).
  • SHE will do it.
  • I  heard the lie.
  • THE DOG opened the cupboard.

See also: reflexive pronouns

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