Using "Myself" in a Sentence: The Curious Case of an Often Misused Pronoun

Updated: Sep 3, 2018



I hear many, many people speak during a single day. I teach 140 sophomores. I go to meetings. I listen to the news. I watch TV. I visit my children's schools. I speak with parents.


I never really expect 100% perfect grammar from anyone; English has so many rules and nuances! "Who" vs. "Whom"- I get that mistake! Using "bring" instead of "take"- who cares? What is NOT okay to me??


"You can give that paper to either Mr. Clark or myself."


That sentence right there gives me frissons in the worst way. The. Worst. Way. So do these next examples:


"The kids will get to eat lunch with myself."

"Neither Annette nor myself will be at the meeting."

"You can see myself if you any questions."


WHATTT????!!??!


What is happening here???? When did people decide that using a reflexive pronoun in this way is acceptable??? Do they think that it makes them sound more educated by using "myself" instead of "me," even though "me" is definitely the right word to use? Do they just want to use a bigger word? Does it sound fancier or something?? It's not. It sounds wrong. You cannot speak in front of a huge group and people and make such a huge grammatical error in such a serious way and expect folks like me to not cringe.


The funniest part?? The sophomores aren't the ones who I ever hear using it incorrectly. It's the professionals. It's the leaders, administrators, politicians, and presidents of organizations. It's the people on TV who are trying to sound like they know something.


So, you ask, when DO you use "myself" in a sentence?


The answer is simple: when you want to use it reflexively. It's appropriate with you use "I" earlier in the sentence because you are referring back to yourself.


For example-

"I treated myself with a facial last night after a hard day."

"I love myself."

"I have to talk to myself in order to stay sane."

"Each day, I love myself a little more."


There are a couple of other times when it could be used appropriately to insert yourself into certain situations, but NEVER when it should be "I" or "me" in the sentence.


Like I always tell my students, remove the second party from the sentence and see what works.


WRONG: "You can give that form to Bill or I."

REMOVE Bill from the equation and it would read, "You can give that form to I." That is not right- it should be me. Same rules apply to myself.


WRONG- "You can give that paper to either Mr. Clark or myself."

WRONG- "You can give that paper to myself."

RIGHT- "You can give that paper to me."

RIGHT- "You can give that paper to either Mr. Clark or me."



Final thoughts here-

-If I am as bothered by this phenomenon, others must be as well.

-Using "I" or "myself" in a sentence does not make you sound smarter or more formal than saying "me"-- what's so wrong with "me" in a sentence?? What happened to make "me" so uncool??

- On another note- I wish people would stop saying "fusstrating." Last week alone, I heard two different people on Big Brother and one person on 90-Day Fiance say this word and I almost died. That is a rant for another day, though.



What are YOUR big grammar pet peeves?? Let me know!


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