Redneck Pronouns

How to use reflexive pronouns correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

There are a number of nonstandard reflexive pronouns (pronouns with the suffixes -self and -selves) used in the US that I’ll call “redneck pronouns” as an easy way to remember them (though it isn’t only “rednecks” who use them). They include hisself, ourself, themself, theirself, theyself, theirselves, and theyselves.

Ourself, themselftheirself, and theyself are easy to recognize as wrong; since they and our are plural, they can’t be paired with the singular self. Hisself and theirselves are more logical mistakes, because we do say myself and yourself (not meself and youself), but they are also nonstandard, as is theyselves.

“Skeeter hurt hisself again,” said Jebediah mockingly.

“At least he didn’t embarrass himself as you just did by using a nonstandard pronoun,” replied Jimbob.

For the sake of your teachers and your grades, please don’t use these nonstandard pronouns in your essays. The standard forms of these pronouns are himselfourselves, and themselves.

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.