It’s time to learn the truth about myself. Learn it and share it with all you know. To be clear, this is not about me.

The issue here concerns the pronoun myself.

If used correctly, myself should rarely come up in conversation. Its abnormally high frequency of appearance indicates that many don’t understand the purpose of the pronoun. Some offenders further have the misguided sense that if they say myself instead of I or me, they sound more intelligent.

They don’t.

Injecting myself where the word doesn’t belong has a way of making speakers and writers seem self-absorbed. Consequently, those who know better find this grammatical gaffe especially annoying.

If you’re confused, don’t be too hard on yourself. The rules regarding myself seem complicated until you break them down. Simply take a moment to review my tutorial:

Myself is a reflexive pronoun. To use myself properly, the following two conditions apply:

1. Myself must refer to the personal pronoun I or me within the sentence.

2. Myself always serves as an object, never the subject.


Error A: Using myself in place of I or me

1. You and Sue should consider going with myself.

Why it’s wrong: The compound subject comprises You and Sue, not I. Myself appears with no reference to I or me in the sentence. (However, could consider going with myself.)

The sentence should state: You and Sue should consider going with me.


2. When you invite myself to the party, please let me know what to bring.

Why it’s wrong: Even though the sentence includes a reference to me, that pronoun is the object of another action that does not relate to myself. You will invite me. (However, could invite myself!)

The sentence should state: When you invite me to the party, please let me know what to bring.

 

Error B: Using myself as the subject

1. John and myself are taking the class.

Why it’s wrong: Remove John and you would have myself as the simple subject. Myself is taking the class. (I hope that sounds terribly wrong to you!)

The sentence should state: John and I are taking the class. Likewise, remove John from the subject for the final test: I am taking the class.

2. That’s not the kind of question that someone like myself should answer.

Why it’s wrong: Myself cannot serve as the subject of a clause. Invert the sentence: Myself should not answer that kind of question. Pull out the clause: Myself should answer. (No and no!)

The sentence should state: That’s not the kind of question that someone like I should answer. I should not answer that kind of questions. I should answer.


Correcting Myself 

1. Would you please help me correct myself?

2. I took the class by myself.

3. I can’t see the value in it myself.

The final word on myself is to err on the side of caution. Do not use the pronoun except in the rare circumstance that you cannot help yourself because myself is the only correct option.

 

My best to you,

Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady

Thoughts or questions? Please contact Sallie Boyles, owner of Write Lady Inc., to exchange ideas about effective communications and gain from professional writing and editing services. Receive monthly tips and insights by subscribing at www.writelady.com.