We can help you get into your dream school.

Sign up for Magoosh SAT or Magoosh ACT Prep.

Kristin Fracchia

ACT Challenge Question 2: Reflexive Pronouns – Explanation

Magoosh ACT Challenge Question

If you missed our Monday ACT Challenge Question post, here it is again. Scroll down for the answer and explanation to this grammar quandry.

ACT Challenge Question #2

The nickname “Mama Pop” was conferred on my aunt by fans of her famous soda shop. She herself, adopted the moniker, and, like a true mother to the community, embraced all of the associations that came along with it.

B. She herself
C. She, herself,
D. She,

Answer and Explanation


Many students who struggle with this question are thinking about the rules for appositives. As a reminder, an appositive is a noun or a noun phrase that renames or defines another noun, such as “My uncle, a master chef,” or “Maya Angelou, a Pulitzer Prize nominee,”. Appositives are often set off by commas. However, if the appositive is essential to either the meaning or the structure of a sentence, it should NOT be set off by commas.

But in this case, “herself” is not exactly an appositive, it is a reflexive pronoun acting as an intensifier. When a reflexive pronoun such as “herself” is used like this, it is not set off with commas. For example, “I myself wouldn’t buy that book.” This makes answer choice C incorrect. Answer choices A and D are also incorrect because they put a single comma between the subject and its verb, which should never happen. Be particularly careful with D. This could be an option if it didn’t have a comma after she (Afterall, the word “herself” is not really needed in this sentence, and it would be more concise to just say “she”) but the comma makes it wrong. So, once again, because reflexive pronouns acting as intensifiers are not set off by commas, the correct answer is B.


Improve your SAT or ACT score, guaranteed. Start your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh SAT Prep or your 1 Week Free Trial of Magoosh ACT Prep today!
About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's sites are full of awesome, free resources that can be found by students prepping for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agony and bliss of train running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will approve and respond to comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! :) If your comment was not approved, it likely did not adhere to these guidelines. If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!