We use a reflexive pronoun when we want to refer back to the subject of the sentence or clause. Reflexive pronouns end in "-self" (singular) or "-selves" (plural). Source

Eg: I cut myself

I saw myself in the mirror

But see this sentence in the dictionary:

She pulled him gently towards her.

Why don't they say "She pulled him gently towards herself"?

  • 2
    As a native English speaker, I would use "herself" instead of "her," and in fact it sounds incorrect to me to use "towards her" instead of "towards herself." But I suppose it should be noted that especially in colloquial speech, the proper reflexive form is replaced by the "ordinary" form when there is some "distance" between the subject and the anaphor. So if the anaphor is simply the direct object, then the proper reflexive form would definitely be used. (1/2)
    – user67444
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 5:38
  • Even with a sentence such as "She looked at herself in the mirror," replacing "herself" with "her" would most likely be universally considered ungrammatical. This is just one of those things that's kind of subjective and as a nonnative speaker (I'm assuming, since this is the English Language Learners forum), I suggest playing it safe by always using the proper reflexive form when appropriate.
    – user67444
    Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 5:40

2 Answers 2


She pulled him gently towards her.

It indicates a direction as you can see. so we don't need to use self or selves for this sentence.

To whom? - To her.

But we need to use self or selves here because it doesn't indicate any direction.

I cut myself.

I saw myself in mirror.

Hope that my answer see work!


I found the answer:

But we use personal pronouns, not reflexives, after prepositions of place... Source

He had a suitcase beside him.

and after with when it means "accompanied by":

She had a few friends with her.

After a preposition of place or location we use a personal pronoun and not a reflexive pronoun. Source

He put the backpack next to him.

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