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Ourself vs. Ourselves: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 4, 2023
"Ourself" is a reflexive form used for singular collective nouns, while "Ourselves" is reflexive for plural subjects, often denoting a group.

Key Differences

Ourself and Ourselves both function as reflexive pronouns, serving to emphasize or refer back to the subject of the sentence. However, "Ourself" is less common and tends to be used with singular collective nouns, implying a unified group or entity. On the other hand, "Ourselves" is widely accepted and used when referring back to a plural subject.
Reflexive pronouns are vital in English grammar, adding emphasis or indicating that an action affects the doer. Ourself, though less frequent, might be seen in contexts where collective entities, such as an organization, act as a singular body. Ourselves, in contrast, often emphasizes the actions of a group of individuals collectively.
In everyday language, Ourselves is the term you're likely to encounter most. It's employed when the action of the subject returns to a plural antecedent, e.g., "We did it ourselves." Conversely, Ourself has a more formal or archaic feel and is seldom used in casual conversation.
Some grammar purists might argue that Ourself has limited grammatical correctness and should be used sparingly. In contrast, Ourselves enjoys widespread acceptance and is applicable in numerous contexts, from casual speech to formal writing.
It's essential to select Ourself or Ourselves based on the subject's plurality. Using them interchangeably might confuse listeners or readers and detract from clear communication.

Comparison Chart

Usage Frequency

Less common
Widely used

Refers to

Singular collective nouns
Plural subjects


More formal or archaic
Standard, accepted in both formal and informal contexts


Emphasizes a unified group or entity
Emphasizes the actions of a group of individuals

Grammatical Acceptance

Limited, often debated
Widely accepted, applicable in numerous contexts

Ourself and Ourselves Definitions


Used to emphasize a unified group.
The company prides ourself on inclusivity.


Reflexive pronoun for plural subjects.
We baked the cookies ourselves.


Refers back to a collective entity.
The nation must defend ourself.


Standard reflexive form for "we."
We must protect ourselves.


Reflexive form for singular collective nouns.
The committee decided to reevaluate ourself.


Used for emphasis in sentences.
We ourselves witnessed the event.


Formal or archaic reflexive pronoun.
The kingdom shall fend for ourself.


Indicates action affecting the group.
We can do it by ourselves.


Singular form indicating one united body.
The team must better ourself.


Plural form referring to a group's collective actions.
We want to express ourselves.


(reflexive pronoun) royal]] or editorial we: myself (as used by a monarch, writer or speaker who is referring to themself as we).
In the present study, we will limit ourself to the simplest of cases.


(reflexive pronoun) Us; the group including the speaker as the object of a verb or preposition when that group also is the subject.
We should keep this for ourselves.


(reflexive pronoun) The reflexive of the generic we: oneself.
We should love our neighbor as ourself.


(emphatic) We; intensifies the subject as the group including the speaker, especially to indicate that no one else satisfies the predicate.
We did it ourselves.


An emphasized form of the pronoun of the first person plural; - used as a subject, usually with we; also, alone in the predicate, in the nominative or the objective case.
We ourselves might distinctly number in words a great deal further then we usually do.
Safe in ourselves, while on ourselves we stand.
Unless we would denude ourself of all force.


Is "Ourself" grammatically correct?

It's debated, but it can be correct when referring to singular collective nouns.

When should I use "Ourselves" in a sentence?

Use "Ourselves" when referring to a plural subject, like "we."

Is "Ourself" commonly used in American English?

No, "Ourself" is less common than "Ourselves."

Is "Ourselves" always reflexive?

Yes, "Ourselves" refers back to the subject in a sentence.

Can "Ourselves" add emphasis in a sentence?

Yes, "Ourselves" can emphasize actions done by a group.

Can I use "Ourselves" to highlight an action?

Yes, it can emphasize an action done by a group.

Can I use "Ourself" when talking about my company?

Yes, if referring to the company as a singular entity, but it's less common.

Are there other reflexive pronouns like "Ourselves"?

Yes, such as "myself," "yourself," "himself," and "themselves."

Is "Ourself" modern English?

While it exists in modern English, it has a more formal or archaic tone.

Do other languages have distinctions like "Ourself" and "Ourselves"?

The distinction varies by language; not all languages differentiate as English does.

Can "Ourself" ever be used for individuals?

Typically, no. For individuals, "myself" would be appropriate.

Can "Ourself" emphasize unity?

Yes, it can emphasize the idea of a group acting as one.

Can I replace "Ourself" with "Ourselves" in a sentence?

Context matters. If referring to a plural subject, "Ourselves" is appropriate.

Which is more prevalent in books: "Ourself" or "Ourselves"?

"Ourselves" is more commonly found in literature.

Do all English speakers differentiate between "Ourself" and "Ourselves"?

While the distinction exists, usage may vary among speakers and regions.

In which contexts might I encounter "Ourself"?

Mostly in formal writing or when referring to singular collective entities.

Is it ever wrong to use "Ourselves" instead of "Ourself"?

Context is key. If the subject is plural, "Ourselves" is the correct choice.

Why is "Ourselves" plural?

It corresponds to the plural subject "we."

Which is more formal: "Ourself" or "Ourselves"?

"Ourself" often has a more formal or archaic feel.

Is "Ourself" a new word in English?

No, "Ourself" has historical roots, though its usage has changed over time.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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