Intensive pronoun masterclass

This lesson helps us understand what an intensive pronoun, also known as an emphatic pronoun, is, when it is used, and how to use it in a sentence.

What is an intensive pronoun in English?

An intensive pronoun refers to a noun or pronoun, which is the subject of a clause, and emphasizes it.

It adds emphasis or attention to the fact the noun it refers to actually did the action or is what they say they are. It makes the reader/listener take the subject seriously. Note that an intensive pronoun can be removed from the sentence without making it ungrammatical.

intensive pronoun infographic
Subjective pronounsObjective pronounsPossessive pronounsIntensive/Reflexive pronouns
youyouyoursyourself (singular)
yourselves (plural)

Ashish made the entire report himself.

The intensive pronoun ‘himself‘ emphasizes the subject ‘Ashish‘. It renders the meaning that the subject did the action (made the report) himself, meaning he didn’t get any help from anyone. There’s another thing that the intensive pronoun does here. It indicates that otherwise is usually expected from the subject, and this might be shocking to the readers.

She organized everything, from catering to decoration, herself. She deserves a lot of credit for that.

In this example, the intensive pronoun ‘herself‘ puts emphasis on the subject ‘she‘. It makes her action stand out and gives attention to her.

I myself will come to pick you up.

Here, the intensive pronoun emphasizes the subject, indicating this (the subject going out to pick someone up) is not common. The subject usually does not go out and pick up people from their places, but they are doing it here. And it is being emphasized or highlighted using the intensive pronoun.

I myself am an English teacher. Why would I take classes from you?

The intensive pronoun helps the subject put stress on them (being an English teacher) and proves the point that they don’t need English classes from the other person. It indicates that the other person might not know the subject being an English teacher, and puts emphasis on it.

I have never made any project myself.

The sentence means that others made projects for the subject in the past, and the subject has not never had any involvement in making them. They got it done by others.

Taking the intensive pronoun from the sentence not only takes the emphasis off the subject but also changes the meaning.

  • I have never made any project.

Now, the sentence infers that the subject has never made any project in their life at all, with or without help from outside.

More examples:

  • Don’t lecture us about the danger of smoking. You yourself are a smoker.
  • You have no right to talk about discipline. You yourself have been coming late to the office lately.
  • Johny wrote the entire report himself.
  • How can your father scold you for having female friends? He himself had many relationships in college.
  • Surprisingly, Monica cleaned the entire house herself.
  • I will go there myself and see what’s happening.
  • They can’t help you get any job. They themselves are looking for a job.
  • If you really want to, you can do it all yourself.
  • The dog filled the bottle itself.
  • I don’t blame you for taking a leave to see Kevin’s standup. I myself am his huge fan.

A sentence without an intensive pronoun does not have the same impact and meaning as it does with it in it. Check the following examples to examine it:

  • I don’t blame you for taking a leave to see Kevin’s standup. I am his huge fan.
  • They can’t help you get any job. They are looking for a job.
  • Johny wrote the entire report.

Do you feel the sentences convey the same meaning after taking intensive pronouns out of them? They certainly aren’t the same with intensive pronouns being in them. This is exactly what an intensive pronoun does to a sentence.

Singular intensive pronouns

A singular-intensive pronoun refers to a single person. Singular intensive pronouns are as follows:

  • Himself
  • Herself
  • Itself
  • Myself
  • Yourself

Plural intensive pronouns

A plural-intensive pronoun refers to more than one person. Plural intensive pronouns are as follows:

  • Ourselves
  • Yourselves
  • Themselves

Important points to note

A) Don’t confuse reflexive pronouns with emphatic pronouns.

I encouraged myself to accept the project and went on doing everything myself.

In this sentence, the word ‘myself‘ following the verbencouraged‘ is a reflexive pronoun as it refers back to the subject, but the second one following ‘everything‘ is an emphatic pronoun. It puts focus on the subject ‘I’.

So, we can’t just call these words a reflexive pronoun or emphatic pronoun without looking at what they do in the sentence.

  • She does not appreciate herself enough. (reflexive)
  • She can’t do it herself. (intensive)
B) Intensive pronouns are placed right after the subject or at the end of a sentence.

After the subject

  • Jon himself is a cop. Don’t try to bring the police into the matter. Jon himself is a cop.
  • My sister herself bought this scooter.

At the end

  • The teacher did not come to the protest themselves.
  • I do all the editing myself.
  • We painted the house ourselves.
C) The word ‘themselves‘, apart from referring to a third-person plural noun, is also used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun.

When referring to a singular noun that refers to a masculine gender and putting emphasis on it, we use the intensive pronoun ‘himself’, and when it is a singular noun that refers to a feminine gender, we use ‘herself’.

But when referring to a singular gender-neutral noun, we use the word ‘themselves’.

Subject pronoun (they)Object pronoun (them)Possessive pronoun (theirs)Intensive pronoun (themselves)

1. The customer wants to return the product, and they want to get a full refund.

2. The person who came yesterday to the office looked very professional. They seemed to know you very well.
1. We should talk to the teacher about this. Call them here.

2. The worker was not at fault, and the company should not have fired them.
1. Can a person touch a car if it’s not theirs?

2. The guest refused to take money from me as it was not theirs.
1. The owner of the company came to wish me themselves.

2. You should not stop consuming milk. The doctor themselves was having tea.

Notice all the nouns (customer, person, teacher, worker, guest, owner, doctor) these pronouns of different types refer to are singular and their gender is neutral.

D) Intensive pronouns can be taken out of a sentence without making the sentence ungrammatical and changing its core meaning.

Intensive pronouns add emphasis on the subject, but they are not essential to the sentences they are a part of, meaning removing them from a sentence is not going to make the sentence ungrammatical or alter its core meaning.

  • I have cleaned the entire floor myself.
  • I have cleaned the entire floor.
  • She herself is a teacher. Don’t lecture her on how it feels to be a teacher.
  • She is a teacher. Don’t lecture her on how it feels to be a teacher.


What is an intensive pronoun?

An intensive pronoun puts emphasis or attention on the subject of a clause and highlights it as doing something or being someone/something. Ex – Maxy build this program herself.

What are the examples of intensive pronouns?

Here are some examples of intensive pronouns:
1. He edited the entire movie himself.
2. We don’t need to take Rony to a doctor. My mother herself is a doctor.
3. The boys made the pool themselves. We didn’t help them at all.
4. Jon himself likes to have wine. Why would he stop you from having it?
5. For the first time, she has prepared dinner herself.

How to tell the difference between reflexive and intensive pronouns?

A reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject and is used in place of the object of a verb or preposition. It is used when the subject and the object are the same person. On the other hand, an intensive pronoun adds emphasis or focus on the subject and stresses what they do in a sentence or who they are.
1. He cracked the deal himself. (intensive)
2. He blames himself for the loss. (reflexive)

What is the purpose of intensive pronouns?

The purpose of an intensive pronoun is to stress what the subject does in a sentence or who they are. It helps readers or listeners take the subject more seriously in a context. Ex – He created the software himself.

Are intensive pronouns necessary?

Intensive pronouns don’t provide essential or restrictive information to a sentence, and that’s why they can be taken out of a sentence without changing its core or primary meaning.

Now, we know what an intensive pronoun is and everything about it. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

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