Me and Myself (Grammar Lesson)

by Craig Shrives
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.)
You cannot use myself for any other reason. You cannot use it because it sounds better than me. You cannot use it when someone other than "you" is doing something to "you." For example:
  • He raised the issue with myself.
Here's the bottom line:
If you're going to use myself, the subject of the verb must be I.

Emphatic and Reflexive Pronouns

Myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves are all pronouns. They can be either emphatic pronouns or reflexive pronouns.

Emphatic Pronouns

When 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.)
You can test if it's an emphatic pronoun by removing it completely and seeing if you get the same effect by emphasizing the thing you're trying to emphasize with your voice (shown below in bold and italics).
  • SHE will do it.
  • I  heard the lie.
  • THE CAT opened the door.

Reflexive Pronouns

In 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.)
However, sometimes people do things to themselves, and this is when you can use myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves as reflexive pronouns. For example:
  • I like myself.
  • He spoke to himself.
  • She thumped herself.
  • The dog bit itself.
Some real examples:
  • I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
  • I cannot bring myself to do it.

See Also

Between you and I or me? 'My wife and I' and I or me Emphatic pronouns Reflexive pronouns