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Expression: By Oneself | (A-Level, Basic)

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Prerequisites: For this lesson, you should know subjective personal pronouns, objective personal pronouns, possessive determiners, and reflexive pronouns. (Links open in a new tab.)

By Oneself

The expression ”by oneself” uses all reflexive pronouns (myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves). It has two similar meanings:

  • When you do something “by yourself,” you do it independently or without anyone’s interference.
  • It also means that you do it alone.

Sometimes “by yourself” can have both meanings, but there is no confusion because the context makes it clear what you mean. The difference is very small, too, so people will understand what you are trying to say.

Examples using “by oneself”

Meaning independently, without interference
  • We don’t know how to solve this math problem by ourselves, so we need to ask our teacher for help.
  • No one knows how to do this, so John needs to do everything by myself.
  • Young children like doing things by themselves.

Meaning alone
  • You should not leave young children by themselves at home.
  • All my friends are busy, so I’m going to the movies by myself.
  • Jane likes going to the coffee shop by herself to read.


Practice 1. Fill in the blanks using the correct form of “by oneself."

Related Lesson

Reflexive pronouns. Learn about reflexive pronouns.

Emphatic reflexive pronouns. Learn about reflexive pronouns used for emphasis.

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