Reflexive or emphatic


We enjoyed ourselves.

Is ourselves used as a reflexive pronoun or as an emphatic pronoun in this sentence?

asked Jun 02 '13 at 08:19 Z. A. Jazley Contributor

2 answers


Z.A., this is an excellent question.  It is a reflexive pronoun, rather than an emphatic one, I am pretty sure. Ourselves is the object of the transitive verb enjoy; the pronoun does not emphasize We, it receives the action of the verb.  But it is a rather odd, obviously idiomatic use of the reflexive pronoun as an object (and some perverted minds might think it even sounds a little dirty) but of course the meaning is "We had fun".  The pronoun could be used emphatically, for example: Most people hated the concert but we ourselves enjoyed it, or We cleaned up the room ourselves.

link comment answered Jun 02 '13 at 08:56 Shawn Mooney Expert

When the reflexive is used as in your example, I think it is better think of it as a subject complement than as an object. In other words, it elaborates on the subject 'we' instead of introducing a direct object. The reflexive allows the action of the main verb to return to the subject - it reflects it.

link comment answered Jun 02 '13 at 09:44 Ahmad Barnard Expert

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