Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English


English definition of “themselves”


pronoun     /ðəmˈselvz/
A2 used when the subject of the verb is 'they' or a group of people , and the object is the same group of people : They asked themselves where they had gone wrong . Did the children enjoy themselves at the party ?Reflexive forms used for emphasis when the subject is 'they': They themselves had no knowledge of what was happening . (all) by themselves alone or without help from anyone else : Small children should not be left by themselves. They collected the evidence all by themselves . (all) to themselves for their use only: They had the whole campsite to themselves. Grammar:Pronouns: reflexive (myself, themselves, etc.)Reflexive pronouns end in -self or -selves. They refer back to the subject forms of personal pronouns (underlined in the example below):Grammar:Reflexive pronouns for same subject and objectWe often use reflexive pronouns when the subject and the object of the verb refer to the same person or thing:Grammar:Reflexive pronouns for emphasisWe can use reflexive pronouns for emphasis:Grammar:Reflexive pronouns + by meaning aloneWe often use reflexive pronouns with by to mean ‘alone’ or ‘without any help’:Grammar:Reflexive pronouns for politenessWe sometimes use reflexive pronouns instead of personal pronouns for politeness, but not as the subject of a clause:
(Definition of themselves pronoun from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of themselves

Definitions of “themselves” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day


the art and knowledge involved in preparing and eating good food

Word of the Day


Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More