What Are Intensive Pronouns? Definition & Examples (Worksheet Included)

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

An intensive pronoun is any pronoun that ends in -self or -selves. I know, it seems like there’s a type of pronoun for everything, but it makes sense once you understand them. It’s identical to a reflexive pronoun but has a different function.

What does an intensive pronoun do? When would you be most likely to use an intensive pronoun?

Keep reading and I’ll explain the complete meaning and usage of an intensive pronoun. I also created examples of how to use them in sentences and a worksheet to test your knowledge.

What is an Intensive Pronoun?

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We replace nouns with pronouns to avoid repetition. The definition of an intensive pronoun is a type of pronoun that emphasizes the subject of the sentence.

This subject can be a noun or a personal pronoun. In writing, intensive pronouns always end in the suffixes -self or -selves, like reflexive pronouns.

Intensive pronouns or emphatic pronouns emphasize the antecedent, meaning the noun being replaced or referred to in sentences. This antecedent is never the direct object, appositive, or indirect object but always the subject.

Other types of pronouns in the English language are personal pronouns, indefinite pronouns, possessive pronouns, reflexive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, etc.

When Would You Use an Intensive Pronoun?

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An intensive pronoun is an omissible pronoun. That means you can remove it from the sentence, and it still expresses a complete thought. It also doesn’t affect language structures of sentences.

For example, the original sentence “She hid the book herself.” can be transformed to “She hid the book.”

So, when is it necessary to use intensive pronouns? It would help if you only used them when you want to emphasize that the subject performed the action.

Here are two sentence examples that use intensive pronouns.

  • The student herself lectured the class when the teacher was absent. (Herself was used because it’s uncommon for a student to give a lecture.)
  • The kid wrote this poem himself. (It’s impressive for a kid to write a poem by himself.)

Some writing tools will require you to remove an intensive pronoun. It’s one of the most common writing issues that has something to do with conciseness.

You don’t always have to follow these AI machines when producing fiction writing or engaging in casual conversations. Make sure you’re not overusing these pronouns, especially in formal writing.

Here are more examples of intensive pronouns in sentences.

  • I myself don’t find the colors lively.
  • You should be washing the dishes yourself.
  • The boys themselves initiated the art project.
  • The team themself was chanting the opponent’s cheer. (Themself is used as a singular pronoun).

Remember that intensive pronouns have different functions from reflexive pronouns. A reflexive pronoun is known to specify that the subject does something by itself or to itself. Here’s a reflexive pronoun in action in a sentence.

  • Lita bought herself a new purse.

Here, herself acts as an indirect object. Without it, it’d be impossible to know for whom Lita bought a new purse.

Take a look at more examples of reflexive pronouns in sentences.

  • I told myself I’d never do it again.
  • She built this diagram by herself.
  • Did you go to another country by yourself?

Intensive Pronouns List

Here’s a list of intensive pronouns. Note that these are also reflexive pronoun examples when used differently in sentences.

Singular Intensive Pronouns

Singular intensive pronouns refer to one person. They include:

  • Myself (the writer or speaker).
  • Yourself (the person being addressed by the writer or speaker).
  • Herself (a female person or animal).
  • Himself (a male person or animal).
  • Itself (a thing or animal).

The pronouns themselves and themself are slowly becoming accepted as singular and gender-neutral language substitutes for these gender-specific pronouns.

Themselves is ideal for individuals who don’t want to use himself or herself. Non-binary people use it to refer to themselves neutrally. It’s essential to use the correct pronouns when talking about another person. It shows respect toward their gender identity and expression.

Meanwhile, themself is a singular term that refers to plural people creating a single action. We use it when a group is collectively doing something. Note that not all style guides agree with the use of themself.

Plural Intensive Pronouns

Plural intensive pronouns refer to more than one person, place, thing, or event. They do not use gendered language. Here are the most common plural intensive pronouns.

  • Ourselves (the speaker or writer and other people).
  • Yourselves (other people besides the writer or speaker).
  • Themselves (a group of people, animals, or objects).
  • Themself (a group of people, animals, or objects as a singular).

Latin Intensive Pronouns

Some languages, especially earlier languages, have their versions of intensive pronouns. For instance, the Latin intensive pronouns are ipse, ipsa, and ipsum. These are gendered pronouns. They are also numbered and possessive of cases.

Other languages like French use specific types of disjunctive pronouns. It uses the adverb -même.

Do You Use Commas with Intensive Pronouns?

No, you don’t need to use commas with intensive pronouns. Intensive pronouns do not act as appositives in sentences even if they both don’t affect the grammatical structure.

Final Word on Intensive Pronouns

Using well-planned intensive pronouns will help you emphasize your sentences without needing an exclamation mark. This post has shown you the basic meaning of intensive pronouns and how to use the correct pronouns in your statements.