We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is an Emphatic Pronoun?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An emphatic pronoun is used within a statement to add emphasis by reinforcing the object or subject of a sentence through repetition. This is almost never actually required in a sentence, but it provides additional meaning or reinforcement of part of a statement. An emphatic pronoun takes the same form as a reflexive pronoun, which is used to indicate that the object of an action in a statement is also the subject performing that action. The difference between these types of pronouns, however, is that a reflexive pronoun acts as the direct or indirect object in a sentence while emphatic pronouns are essentially unnecessary.

Common forms of an emphatic pronoun in English make use of the suffix “-self” such as “myself” or “herself.” Simple examples of this type of pronoun in use would be sentences like “I went to the store myself” or “The President himself built this house.” In the first example, the word “I” indicates the subject of the sentence, while “went” is the predicate or action that the subject is taking. “To the store” is a prepositional phrase, in the form of the preposition “to” and a noun phrase consisting of the article “the” and the noun “store,” which indicates the direction or destination of the action. The word “myself” is an emphatic pronoun in the sentence that only serves to reinforce that it was the subject that performed the action.

In the second example, “The President” is the subject in the form of a noun phrase that consists of the article “The” and the noun “President.” “Built” is the predicate or action in this statement and “this house” is the direct object that indicates what the subject “built.” The emphatic pronoun “himself” merely serves to reinforce that it was “The President” who performed the action in the sentence. If the emphatic pronouns were removed from either of these examples, then the meaning of each sentence would still remain intact.

An emphatic pronoun usually takes the same form in English as a reflexive pronoun, using the suffix “-self,” but each of these types of pronouns serve different purposes. A reflexive pronoun is used when the subject of a sentence is also the direct or indirect object, such as “He wrote himself a note.” In this example, “He” is the subject and “wrote” is the predicate, while “a note” is the direct object that indicates what the action or predicate was performed upon. The pronoun “himself” is not emphatic, however, but instead indicates the indirect object in the sentence, which demonstrates who the note is meant for.

If “himself” was removed from the sentence, the meaning would be changed since the person the note was meant for would no longer be indicated. “He wrote a note” is still a complete sentence, but is missing the some of the meaning and clarity of the original. The sentence “He wrote a note himself,” however, uses “himself’ as an emphatic pronoun and no longer indicates the indirect object for the note.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon981724 — On Dec 14, 2014

"They got themselves into a mess." What is "themselves" here?

By Ruggercat68 — On Apr 02, 2014

@Cageybird- I myself would tend to agree with you, but you yourself might not have proven your argument. Some emphatic pronouns do add some clarity to the sentence, as in the examples you mentioned. Others, like my first sentence, are mostly gratuitous. I may just want to emphasize that I myself came up with that thought and I'm not speaking for anyone else.

By Cageybird — On Apr 01, 2014

I think removing an emphatic pronoun does change the meaning of a sentence, however slightly. Since we assume a leader would delegate manual labor to someone else, it's important to understand that the President "himself" built the house. We'd need to know the police chief "himself" gave the order to evacuate. Without that emphatic pronoun, some readers might assume the house was built under the President's orders by others. The police chief's office may have issued the evacuation order under his name.

By adding the emphatic pronoun, there is no doubt that the subject, and no one else, performed the action in the sentence.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.