Me, Myself, and I

Who are these people? What is their role in a sentence?

We’ll talk in a another post about when to use “I” and “me”—“I is you as the subject, and “me” is you as the object. But where does “myself” come in?

Increasingly we hear people using the word “myself” when “me” is the correct choice. Example: “Sheila invited John and myself to the event.” Another example: “The honor was given to myself.” In both of these sentences, the speaker is the object rather than the subject of the sentence. That means the correct way for the speaker to refer to himself or herself is with the word “me.”

The word “myself” is a reflexive pronoun. That’s the form of the pronoun we use when we have already referred to ourselves as the subject, as in “I cleaned the floor myself.” The emphasis is on our having done the thing, as opposed to, in this instance, someone else’s having done it, such as the maid. We also use it when we’ve referred to someone else as the subject of the sentence and need to refer to him or her again within the same clause: “He made himself an enormous lunch,” or “She’s done pretty well for herself, what with that degree in quantum mechanics.”

People seem to think that using “myself” in a sentence is a way to avoid saying “me,” which, for some reason, seems to appear to them to be crass or self-serving. It’s not. It’s simply a way to refer to yourself when you’re the object of the sentence. “He gave it to me.” You’d only say “He gave it to myself” if “he” were also “you”—a metaphysical and/or psychological dynamic we’ve yet to see, but one that might make a good movie. In fact, you might recognize this dynamic from Fight Club. “Tyler Durden punched himself.” Yes. There, the reflexive pronoun used with a different subject works. But it’s the only instance we can think of.



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