Download Lesson 17
Ms. Weaver: Anna, Pete, I have a new assignment for you -- a show on single parents! What is it like for a mother or a father to raise a child by herself or himself?
Anna: We can interview single parents. They can share their experiences themselves.
Ms. Weaver: Yes, but you need to experience parenthood yourselves.
Peter: Yeah, how do we do that? We’re not parents.
Ms. Weaver: I asked myself the same question. I said, "Caty, how are they gonna do that?" Then an idea came to me. I will give you the babies!
Professor Bot: You may be asking yourself the same thing that I’m asking myself: what is Ms. Weaver talking about!? I am sure we will find out shortly.
This lesson teaches reflexive pronouns.
Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of a sentence or clause. We use them when the subject and the object are the same person or thing.
For example, Ms. Weaver says, “I asked myself the same question.”
“I” is the subject and “myself” refers back to it. Here, she would not use the pronoun “me.” You need to use the reflexive pronoun “myself.”
Reflexive pronouns are easy to find: they end in “self” or “selves.” I have a feeling we are going to see a lot of reflexive pronouns. Listen for them!
(Pete and Anna continue their meeting with Ms. Weaver. She puts two bags of flour on the table. Pete and Anna still look confused.)
Ms. Weaver: Here are your babies!
Pete: Those are bags of flour.
Ms. Weaver: No, Pete, for the next six days, this is your baby. Here are your instructions. Do not leave your babies alone. A baby cannot take care of itself. And you two must do everything by yourselves.
We will meet next Friday. Oh, and the person who does the best research will get an extra day of vacation. Help yourself to a baby.
Anna: Pete, look, my baby is organic and whole grain. Your baby is ordinary.
(Pete pushes her flour baby off desk.)
Anna: (to Pete) Monster! (to Caty) This is a great idea, Ms. Weaver!
(Pete and Anna are now outside.)
Pete: This is a terrible idea.
Anna: Speak for yourself, Pete! We need to throw ourselves into the research! I’m starting right now!
(She leaves but forgets her Flour Baby.)
Pete: Hey Anna, you forgot your baby!
(She turns and looks at Pete.)
Anna: Come to mama!
(The bag of flour flies at her. She catches it.)
Anna: Good girl! Good girl!
Professor Bot: Singular reflexive pronouns end in “self.” Plural ones end in “selves.”
Anna says, “We need to throw ourselves into the research!” The subject “we” is plural. So, we must use the plural reflexive pronoun “ourselves.”
(The parenting research begins. Anna tries to open a baby stroller but can’t. A man walking by helps her. She pushes Flour Baby in the stroller but it falls out. On another day, she jogs with it. After several days, she is tired!)
Anna: This is hard! I hope Pete is not doing well. I really need that vacation day!
Professor Bot: We will all see how Pete is doing in the next episode. We’ll also learn when not to use reflexive pronouns.
See how well you understand this lesson by taking a listening quiz. Play each short video, then choose the best answer.
Download the VOA Learning English Word Book for a dictionary of the words we use on this website.