How to use it, and how not to use it.

Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #174

myself pronounToday's topic is how to use the word “myself.”

Misusing “myself” is definitely one of the top things people complain to me about. Here's an example:

<caller comment>

The caller is right; people seem to be so afraid to use the words “me” and “I,” that they substitute “myself” in all kinds of inappropriate places.

“Me” Is the Object Pronoun

It's common to hear people say things like this: Please contact Squiggly, Aardvark, or myself with questions. Here's why that's wrong: the position of Squiggly, Aardvark, and the incorrect “myself” in the sentence is the object position, and “me” is the object pronoun you use to refer to yourself in a sentence like that.

An Easy Trick

The quick and dirty tip to get it right is to think about how you would say the sentence without Squiggly and Aardvark.

So here we go. You'd probably say, “Please contact me.”

I don't know why people mess it up more when there are multiple people in the sentence, but they do. It's not as if I've never heard anyone say, “Please contact myself,” but that kind of error is much more rare.

So once you know how to figure it out with just one person, you simply add in the other people: Please contact Squiggly, Aardvark, and me with questions. (We learned back in March in episode 163 that you always put yourself last in a list like that.)

“I” Is the Subject Pronoun

Is the rule any different when you're dealing with the subject of a sentence? No, but I hear errors like this all the time: Aardvark and myself will quench the fire.

That's wrong because Aardvark and the incorrect “myself” are in the subject position, and “I” is the subject pronoun you use to refer to yourself.

Again, try the one-person-limit test. The sentence is “I will quench the fire.” Once you have that, you can start adding in other people, again, keeping yourself last in the list: Aardvark and I will quench the fire.

“Myself” Is the Reflexive Pronoun

By now you're probably asking when it is OK to use “myself.”


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

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