Me, Myself or I - Grammar Errors, Rules, Questions
Using the word "Myself"
Myself Is Not Supposed To Be a Common Word
Politicians do it. TV Anchors do it. Even my boss does it. They all use the word MYSELF incorrectly. If I don't get the word out on how to use this reflexive pronoun correctly, it is highly likely I will be meeting some men in white coats in the near future.
The word "myself" creeps into our everyday vocabulary as if it has a right to kick out the word "I" and "me" out to the next zip code.
"Please contact myself or Doctor Grammarsbad if you have questions."
Do you know what images are conjured up in my mind at the sound of that? I tell you, I will not contact that person - I don't want to touch him or her, nor do I want to pat him or her on some part of the body. That's basically what that sentence says.
It's supposed to be:
Please contact Doctor Grammarsbad or me if you have any questions.
Give "ME" a chance!
The other day I was in a meeting and my boss was talking about some new program out there that we are going to adopt.
We are going to implement this program, folks. Myself and a few other people tried it and we liked it.
At that moment, I could not pay attention to whatever she was talking about. "Myself" was ringing in my head and whatever credibility my boss had at that moment was lost to the grammar gods. They had stolen her mojo and I was praying to them, begging for their mercy, because I was suffering. I was in agony: yet another perfectly educated citizen committing a grammar faux pas, sending my brain swirling into a dizzying overdrive of grammar points and rules. I felt nauseated. I felt like fainting.
Somebody get me some water, please? Or at least save me from myself.
"Myself" Is a Reflexive Pronoun
"'Myself' is a what?" you ask.
Basically a reflexive pronoun is a word that expresses something you do to yourself.
I love myself.
I thought to myself, "I'm crazy!"
I bought myself a box of chocolates - I have cravings.
Notice something here: the word "myself" is always paired up with the oh-so-tiny word "I" in every sentence.
I'm drinking a huge gulp of water right now. I'm starting to feel more like myself. Gulp, gulp. Oh, and please don't tell the Men in White Coats about this episode. I'm already on grammatical probation. Please send your prayers to the grammar gods for me, too. I myself need their help.
When Are You Supposed To Use "Myself"?
There are a few tricks and rules for using this word - this word that is like a meddling neighbor in the wrong zip code. He needs to stop hanging out on Personal Pronoun Street or on Objective Pronoun Avenue. A swift kick back to Reflexive Pronoun Boulevard is in order.
As I said before, "myself" is always paired with the word "I" in a sentence. It also involves doing something to yourself.
I banged myself on the head when I realized I had forgotten my wallet. (Don't bang too hard or you might hurt yourself!)
I wanted to treat myself to a massage after a long day of dealing with the Men in White Coats. (A massage really does sound nice right now.)
"Myself" can also be an intensive pronoun, meaning you'd like to EMPHASIZE that you, in fact, did something. (You can also use ALL CAPS to emphasize, but then people might think you're YELLING at them. Please don't do that - I'm still recovering from too many grammar mishaps.)
I myself wrote over two hundred pages for that project. (Wow! You wrote two hundred pages?)
I went to the store and bought the groceries myself. (You mean your best friend didn't go with you? Aw, were you lonely?)
Tips and Tricks for "Myself"
The trouble is, people don't usually use this word incorrectly if there's just one subject in the sentence:
Please talk to me.
I went with her to the psychiatrist.
If you add more than one person, the "me" and the "I" stay the same:
Please talk to Anne or me.
Marlo and I went with her to see the psychiatrist.
I beg you, dear readers, please do not make me commit myself. Please don't kick "me" and "I" to the next zip code. They deserve to be where they are. They deserve the dignity of living on their own street.
When in doubt, take out the second, or third subject and see if you would use "myself". You might find you sound like a crazy person:
Myself went to the store.
Um, really? So, what is it? Is there someone named "Myself"? Or, were you carried there by some invisible force? Do we need to call the Men in White Jackets?
When To Use "I" and "Me"
I won't bore you with the grammatical details of nominative and objective case. (Though, I find them truly fascinating...but well, that's why I have the number for the Men in the White Coats on my speed dial.)
If you don't remember anything else, remember this:
The word "I" goes before the verb. (Oh, please, please tell me you got through third grade KNOWING what subjects and predicates are!)
I went to the hospital.
She and I went to the hospital.
The dogs, Marlo and I went to the hospital.
The word "me" goes after the verb.
She gave the pills to me.
She gave more pills to Bill and me.
She gave pills to the dogs, to Bill, and to me.
See? They like staying in their separate zip codes.
When in doubt: do NOT use myself - Use "I" or "Me".
Why? Well, it's much more soothing to the ears if you're just getting "I" or "me" mixed up. I can forgive such grammatical crimes. "Myself" should only ever be used when paired up with "I" - then, yes, by all means, "myself" can visit "I" in the same zipcode - but make sure you're actually doing something to yourself. Otherwise, I'll call the grammar police (a.k.a. the Men in White Coats) and they WILL have you committed to that special hospital with the padded room and you can bang your head against the wall as many times as you want without hurting yourself. Or, I could just commit myself and save everyone the trouble.
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© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun