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

Mignon Fogarty
3-minute read
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 Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.