This article was originally written in March, 2010 – over four years ago! Yet the proliferation of people using ‘myself’ hasn’t seemed to slow down. Enjoy!
This week I’m going to take a break from tech and write about a pet grammar peeve of mine—the misuse of the word ‘myself’ in everyday conversations and in writing. It’s an epidemic! What’s going on with people? I’ll give you my opinion. Keep reading.
I don’t think of myself as a grammar expert and I can’t always quote a rule as to why something is grammatically right or wrong, In fact, I had to go and research why I know it’s wrong to say something like this: “If you have any questions, please contact, Bob, Joe or myself”. What’s the deal with the misuse of ‘myself’? It’s my opinion that most people don’t know whether to use the pronoun, ‘I’, or ‘me’, so they decide they’ll ‘play it safe’ and use ‘myself’. Another reason could be the speaker/author believes they sound more intelligent or academic. Wrong.
I, Me or Myself Research
I’m not the only one on a soapbox about this – I found both the Grammarphobia blog as well as Grammar Girl, had both written columns on the misuse of ‘myself’.
They explain that ‘myself, herself and himself’ are reflexive pronouns’. You can look at the definition here. Instead of defining it, I think it’s easier looking at an example:
The cat washed herself carefully with her tongue. ‘Cat’ is the noun in the sentence and ‘herself’ is the reflexive pronoun. A reflexive pronoun refers back to the previously named subject (the cat) of the sentence.
According to experts, reflexive pronouns should be used for only two purposes:
- To place an emphasis on the subject. ‘Yes, I drove to town myself.’
- To refer to a subject already named. ‘She’s too hard on herself.’
Pronouns, like I, he, she and me, are our friends. Don’t be afraid to use them. Here’s a simple way to know whether to use ‘I’, or ‘me’ in a sentence. Just take out the other people’s names in the sentence and use only the pronoun. For example:
Dave, Nancy, Sarah and I decided to go to a movie last night. If you take out Dave, Nancy & Sarah and read the sentence, it’s correct. If you had ‘myself’ instead of ‘I’, it would sound wrong and would be wrong!
Thanks to my husband who actually gave me the idea for this topic, although unintentional. My little rant is over and I feel better now. Feel free to write with your grammar pet peeve.