Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days: Day 28 — In which I talk about myself.

No worries; this isn't going to be a narcissistic post. I want to talk about the word myself.

Have you ever heard someone say something like this:

1. If you are interested in going, please let either Bill or myself know.


2. Give the extra books to myself.

What exactly is the word myself, and when should you use it?

Myself is a reflexive pronoun—a pronoun used reflexively. It directs the action of the verb back on the speaker, who is also the doer (think of looking in a mirror and seeing your reflection). Like this:

I will drive myself to my appointment. (The doer and the receiver of the action are the same person.)

It is also used to indicate something that is done by the speaker alone, like this:

I will grind the wheat myself. (I am doing something by myself, alone, with no help from anyone.)

I bought coffee for Ben and myself. (Remove Ben from the sentence and you'll see that myself is correct.)

So unless the speaker is the doer AND the receiver of the action, don't use myself. Let's go back to the first two examples.

1. If you are interested in going, please let either Bill or myself know. (If you take Bill out, you'll see that the correct pronoun is me; please let me know.)

2. Give the extra books to myself. (No. You want the word that will be the object of the preposition to. Give the extra books to me.)

In both examples, the receiver of the action is me, but the doer is someone else. Only use myself when the doer and the receiver are the same person.

Myself is often used incorrectly because people are afraid of the word me, so they use myself, thinking it makes them sound smart. It doesn't. Use I when you are the subject. Use me when you are the direct or indirect object or the object of a preposition (Give the books to me). When you are both the doer and receiver of the action, use myself.

Myself (and other reflexive pronouns himself, herself, themselves, etc.) can be used in other ways too, but those are not usually the problematic issues. The one that gives most people trouble is when they try to substitute a reflexive pronoun for an objective case one. Don't be like them.

Be thankful ~

PS. I also want to add that, despite my husband's valiant argument, he is still incorrect when it comes to the Oxford comma. If and were the ultimate divider, we wouldn't need any commas at all; we would just use a bunch of ands. Furthermore, one of us is a professional editor and the other is a defense contractor.

1 comment:

Donna G said...

This is too funny. I charge the Boss $0.50 when he uses "myself" incorrectly. I have made about $35 so far, but the instances of incorrect use have slown to a trickle.

I am threatening to do the same thing with "in regards"...