Me and Myself (Grammar Lesson)
The Quick Answer(1) You can use the word myself when "you" are doing something to "you" (e.g., I hate myself. I asked myself a question.)
(In this role, the word myself is called a reflexive pronoun.)
(2) You can use the word myself for emphasis (e.g., I did it myself.)
(In this role, the word myself is called an emphatic pronoun.)
These are the only times, you can use myself. Do not use myself because you think it sounds more formal or polite (e.g., Please contact myself if you have any questions. )
Me or Myself?The word myself is a pronoun. It can be either an emphatic pronoun or reflexive pronoun. That is easier to understand than you might think. For example:
- I did it myself. (When myself is used for emphasis, it is known as an emphatic pronoun.)
- I pricked myself with a pin. (When myself is used to show "you" doing something to "yourself," it is known as a reflexive pronoun.)
- He raised the issue with myself.
Emphatic and Reflexive PronounsMyself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves are all pronouns. They can be either emphatic pronouns or reflexive pronouns.
Emphatic PronounsWhen used for emphasis, they are called emphatic pronouns.
- She will do it herself. (The waiter won't do it. Her husband won't do it. Her son won't do it. SHE will do it.)
- I heard the lie myself.
- The cat opened the door itself. (Note: It's not always about people.)
- SHE will do it.
- I heard the lie.
- THE CAT opened the door.
Reflexive PronounsIn most sentences, somebody does something to someone else. For example:
- I like him.
- He spoke to her.
- She thumped him.
- The dog bit her. (Note: It's not always about people.)
- I like myself.
- He spoke to himself.
- She thumped herself.
- The dog bit itself.
- I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
- I cannot bring myself to do it.
Don't Use Myself to Be PoliteThe most common mistake is using a reflexive pronoun when the subject of the verb is not doing something to itself. For example:
- I did it to myself.
- He did it to myself.
- He did it to himself.
- He insulted the doctor and I. (wrong)
- He insulted the doctor and me. (correct, but sounds wrong to some)
- He insulted the doctor and myself. (wrong, but sounds better to some)
- I insulted the doctor and myself.
- Please pass any comments to the director or myself.
- Please pass any comments to the director or me.
- Please pass any comments to me or the director.