Me or Myself? (Grammar Lesson)
The Quick AnswerYou can only use the word "myself" if you've used the word "I" in your sentence. For example:
- I pricked myself with a pin.
- I saw it myself.
- 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. If you're new to these terms, don't worry. They're 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 saw myself in the mirror. (When "myself" is used to show "you" doing something to "yourself," it is known as a reflexive pronoun.)
- He raised the issue with myself.
- Please send any complaints to your line manager or myself.
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 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.
Why Should I Care about Emphatic and Reflexive Pronouns?Here is a common mistake related to "me" and "myself."
Don't Use "Myself" to Be Polite or FormalA 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. (This is no different to saying "He insulted I." It is wrong because "I" cannot be the direct object of a verb. )
- He insulted the doctor and me. (This is correct, but it grates on some people's ears, which forces them to use the one of the wrong versions. Of note, native English speakers prefer the word order "me and the doctor" as opposed to "the doctor and me." This contributes to writers opting for one of the wrong versions.)
- He insulted the doctor and myself. (This is wrong, but it sounds okay to many.)
- Please pass any comments to the director or myself.
- Please pass any comments to the director or me. (This correct version feels too uncomfortable for many.)
- Please pass any comments to me or the director. (This word order sounds better.)