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Tip 43: I, Me, or Myself?

When is it okay to use ‘myself,’ and when must I use ‘me’ or ‘I’?

All three words are pronouns. That means that they take the place of nouns. So if my name is Elvira and I say, “Please give it to me,” I mean, “Please give it to Elvira.”

‘Me’ and ‘I’ are personal pronouns. ‘Myself’ is a reflexive pronoun. Think of it this way: Look into a mirror, and you might say, “I can see myself in that mirror.” The pronoun ‘myself’ reflects the ‘I’ who is looking into the mirror. It sounds odd to say, “I see me in the mirror.”

A reflexive pronoun will never be the subject (the doer of the action) in a sentence. It will always function as an object, or a receiver of action.

Example #1:
Billy Bob and myself gave our dog Killer a bath. — incorrect
Let’s say that Billy Bob decided not to help.
Would you say, “Myself gave our dog Killer a bath”? Nope.
You would say, “I gave our dog Killer a bath.”
The correct way to say this sentence is “Billy Bob and I gave our dog Killer a bath.”

Example #2:
Aunt Clarice gave Billy Bob and myself a big hunk of chocolate cake. –incorrect
Send Billy Bob next door for milk and try again.
Would you say, “Aunt Clarice gave myself a big hunk of chocolate cake?” Nope.
You would say, “Aunt Clarice gave me a big hunk of chocolate cake.”
The correct way to say this sentence is “Aunt Clarice gave Billy Bob and me a big hunk of cake.”
So when we use ‘myself,’ it (the reflexive pronoun) will receive action-but not always.
Here are two instances when you can use ‘myself’:

Instance #1:
When you are both the subject and an object in the sentence:
I bought myself a new car.
I’m going to treat myself to an eggnog latte.

Instance #2:
To add emphasis (note that if you take it out, the sentence does not lose its meaning):
I washed all of the dishes myself.
I myself was witness to the horrendous deed.

The other reflexive pronouns, by the way, are herself, himself, itself, themselves, and ourselves. NEVER USE THE WORD THEIRSELVES! It is non-standard and will likely give your local grammar goddess (or god) a coronary.