Me or Myself?

Should I write "me" or "myself"?

homesitemapcommon errors me or myself?
You can only use the word "myself" if you've used the word "I" in your sentence. For example:
  • I pricked myself with a pin. correct tick
  • I saw it myself. correct tick
Do not use "myself" because you think it sounds more formal or polite. For example:
  • Please contact myself if you have any questions. wrong cross
me or myself?

More about "Me" and "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. correct tick
  • (When "myself" is used for emphasis, it is known as an emphatic pronoun.)
  • I saw myself in the mirror. correct tick
  • (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. wrong cross
  • Please send any complaints to your line manager or myself. wrong cross
Here's the bottom line:

The 100% Rule

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. correct tick
  • (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. correct tick
  • The cat opened the door itself. correct tick
  • (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. correct tick
  • He spoke to himself. correct tick
  • She thumped herself. correct tick
  • The dog bit itself. correct tick
Some real examples:
  • I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. correct tick
  • I cannot bring myself to do it. correct tick

Why Emphatic and Reflexive Pronouns Are Important

Here is a common mistake related to "me" and "myself."

Don't Use "Myself" to Be Polite or Formal

A 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. correct tick
  • He did it to myself. wrong cross
  • He did it to himself. correct tick
Here are some more examples featuring "I," "me," and "myself."
  • He insulted the doctor and I. wrong cross
  • (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. correct tick
  • (This is correct, but it grates on some people's ears, forcing them to use 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. wrong cross
  • (This is wrong, but it sounds okay to many.)
Let's do one more example:
  • Please pass any comments to the director or myself. wrong cross
  • Please pass any comments to the director or me. correct tick
  • (This correct version feels too uncomfortable for many.)
  • Please pass any comments to me or the director. correct tick
  • (This word order sounds better.)

Video Lesson

Here is a video explaining when to use "me" and "myself": video lesson

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.

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