Ask Difference

Us vs. Ourselves — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Maham Liaqat — Updated on March 9, 2024
"Us" is a pronoun used to refer to the speaker and one or more others, while "ourselves" is a reflexive pronoun emphasizing the action done by the speaker and their group back onto themselves.
Us vs. Ourselves — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Us and Ourselves


Key Differences

"Us" functions as an object pronoun in sentences, indicating the person or group affected by the action of the verb, without implying any action performed upon themselves. For example, in "She invited us to the party," "us" receives the action of the invitation. On the other hand, "ourselves" is used to reflect the action of the verb back onto the subject when the subject and the object of the verb are the same. In the sentence "We prepared ourselves for the journey," "ourselves" emphasizes that the subjects ("we") are also receiving the action directly.
While "us" is necessary to construct sentences where the speakers and others are the direct or indirect objects of actions performed by someone else, "ourselves" adds a layer of meaning that indicates the speakers and their companions are performing actions that affect them directly. It signifies a direct involvement and impact of the action on the speaker and their group, often used for emphasis or to denote that no external parties are involved in the action.
"Us" is versatile and can appear in various sentence positions (subject, indirect object, direct object, after prepositions) but always as part of the action received from an external source. In contrast, "ourselves" is more specific in its use, primarily following verbs or prepositions to indicate an action the subjects perform on themselves, suggesting autonomy or self-sufficiency in the action.
The distinction between "us" and "ourselves" also highlights the difference in sentence structure required to use them correctly. "Us" can fit into a broader range of contexts without needing the subject of the sentence to be the same as the object. Meanwhile, "ourselves" demands that the subject is doing something that reflects back upon the subject group, creating a mirrored action where the doers and the receivers of the action are the same.
Understanding when to use "us" versus "ourselves" is essential for accurate and clear communication. "Us" portrays the group as recipients of an action, while "ourselves" conveys the group's active participation in an action that affects them directly, embodying a sense of self-involvement or self-reflection in the process.

Comparison Chart


Object pronoun
Reflexive pronoun


Indicates the group as the action's recipient.
Reflects the action back onto the speaker and group.

Usage Context

When the speaker and others are affected by others' actions.
When the speaker and group are both doers and recipients of the action.

Sentence Position

Can serve as direct object, indirect object, or object of a preposition.
Follows the verb or preposition to indicate self-directed action.


She gave us a gift.
We made ourselves at home.

Compare with Definitions


Indicates a group affected by someone else's action.
They invited us to the meeting.


A reflexive pronoun used for emphasis or to indicate the subject's action upon themselves.
We cooked ourselves a lavish dinner.


Serves to identify the recipients of an action.
He offered us a ride.


Implies the speakers are both doers and recipients of an action.
We introduced ourselves.


A pronoun referring to the speaker and one or more others.
Can you help us?


Used to emphasize the subject's role in the action.
We did it ourselves without any help.


Does not imply action upon the speaker and their group.
She told us a story.


Emphasizes autonomy or self-sufficiency.
We have to decide for ourselves.


Used as an object of a verb or preposition.
The teacher praised us for our work.


Indicates self-directed actions or effects.
We prepared ourselves for the challenge.


Give us a kiss


(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.


Used by a speaker to refer to himself or herself and one or more other people as the object of a verb or preposition
Both of us
We asked him to come with us
Let us know


(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.


(personal) Me and at least one other person; the objective case of we.


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.


Give us a look at your paper.
Give us your wallet!
She's turned the weans against us!


(Northern England) Our.
We'll have to throw us food out.


(Geordie) Me (in all contexts).
Look at us while you’re speaking to us.
Could you do that for us?


The speakers/writers, or the speaker/writer and at least one other person.
It's not good enough for us teachers.


(rare) u's.


The persons speaking, regarded as an object; ourselves; - the objective case of we. See We.
Give us this day our daily bread.


48 conterminous states in North America plus Alaska in northwest North America and the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean; achieved independence in 1776

Common Curiosities

What is the difference between "us" and "ourselves"?

"Us" is an object pronoun used when the speaker and their group are the action's recipients, while "ourselves" is a reflexive pronoun used to indicate actions the speaker and their group perform on themselves.

How does "ourselves" affect the emphasis of a sentence?

"Ourselves" adds emphasis on the subject's role in the action, often highlighting autonomy or a direct impact on the speaker and their group.

Is "ourselves" always necessary in a sentence?

"Ourselves" is used for specific purposes and is not always necessary unless indicating a reflexive action or emphasizing the subject's involvement.

Can "us" and "ourselves" be used interchangeably?

No, they serve different grammatical purposes and cannot be used interchangeably without altering the sentence's meaning.

When should "ourselves" be used in a sentence?

"Ourselves" should be used when the speakers are performing an action that directly affects them, especially for emphasis or self-reflection.

Why use "ourselves" instead of "us"?

"Ourselves" is used for emphasis or when the action is self-directed, showing that the speakers are both the subjects and objects of the action.

Can "ourselves" be used for emphasis in any context?

"Ourselves" is most effectively used for emphasis in contexts where highlighting self-action or self-reliance is relevant.

What role does "us" play in a sentence structure?

"Us" functions as an object—either direct, indirect, or the object of a preposition—indicating those affected by the action.

Can "us" be the subject of a sentence?

No, "us" cannot serve as the subject; it is always the object. The correct subject pronoun is "we."

How does the use of "ourselves" change the focus of a sentence?

Using "ourselves" shifts the focus onto the speaker and their group's direct involvement or effect on themselves.

Is "ourselves" only used for actions performed physically?

No, "ourselves" can refer to any action taken by the subject that affects them, whether physical, mental, or emotional.

What is an example of incorrectly using "us" and "ourselves"?

Incorrect: "We enjoyed us at the party." Correct: "We enjoyed ourselves at the party."

Can "ourselves" be used without a preceding subject?

No, "ourselves" must have a clear subject performing the action, typically "we," to be grammatically correct and meaningful.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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