Everything Language and Grammar

Me, Myself, and I

Posted by languageandgrammar on May 29, 2008

A story on a regional news show ended with the interviewee saying, It was good for the neighborhood and myself. I was glad that things had worked out for the community, but, being as concerned as I am with grammar, I couldn’t help thinking, Why is that grammar error becoming more common?

The error of which I speak, of course, is the incorrect use of the pronoun myself. The –self pronouns are called either reflexive or intensive depending on their function in a sentence. What’s important here, though, is that in either case, myself shouldn’t be used unless there’s an I previously in the same sentence.

  • I prepared it myself.
  • I saw myself in the mirror.
  • I consider myself fortunate.
  • I, myself, haven’t had that problem, but I know someone who has.
  • They asked whether I, myself, had ever encountered that particular problem.

Don’t use –self pronouns when a nominative or objective pronoun is in order.

  • It was good for the neighborhood and me (not myself).
  • He gave the book to him and me (not myself).
  • She and I (not myself) are going to the opera.

It might be easier to determine the correct pronoun if you separate each pronoun into its own sentence. For example:

  • He gave the book to him. He gave the book to (I, me, or myself). It’s clear that the correct pronoun is me, so the sentence is He gave the book to him and me.
  • She is going to the opera. (I, me, myself) am going to the opera. The correct pronoun is, of course, I, so the correct sentence is She and I are going to the opera.

It’s interesting to note that there have been reputable writers who have used the reflexive pronouns incorrectly (as is true with all grammar errors), so if you, yourself, are an offender, you’re in good company.

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4 Responses to “Me, Myself, and I”

  1. Ivy said

    Grammar aside, I noticed that some people use “myself” to replace “me” with the perception (or perhaps, misconception) that it is more polite than “me”.

    Any thoughts?

  2. Deena said

    I think it is because they do not understand — perhaps have not learned — the difference between nominative and objective cases.

    As the teaching of grammar has declined or has been relegated to the back burner in order to “teach to the test,” naturally the deficit will be filled with whatever is common in oral communication.

  3. Sesh said

    On the canceled/cancelled issue, I think you are sparring for a war between two great countries divided by a common language (and the Pond :o)

  4. […] Me, Myself, and I. The word "myself" is often misused. Find out which pronouns to use in which circumstance. […]

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