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Me, Myself, and I

Richard SpeightsMe, Myself, and I are three words also known in grammatical terms as object pronoun, reflexive pronoun, and subject pronoun.

We were all taught how to use these words in our earliest education. Somehow, many seem to have forgotten these lessons. Moreover, there is a habit in the police forces to misuse the reflexive pronoun, transforming mutilated English into cop-talk.

 “Officer Jones and myself apprehended the suspect.”

The sentence above is so wrong it hurts my teeth to write it. Nonetheless, I’ve heard about a million cops misuse “myself” over the years. Resist the law; do not do as they do.

A sentence only needs a subject and a verb, represented by the shortest verse in the bible:

 “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

“Jesus” is the subject of the sentence and “wept” is the verb.

So if that sentence were about your correspondent, I would write, “I wept.”

The word “me” is an object pronoun, as in:

 “He gave me the ball.” or “He gave the ball to me.”

 “He” is the subject.

“Gave” is the verb.

"The ball to me” is the predicate.

The verb takes the action from the subject and direct object and sends it down the sentence to the indirect object, “gave” the ball to “me”.

 (Me can be either the direct or indirect object of a sentence.)

The word “myself” is reflexive. It is used to talk about one’s self. It’s use requires a personal subject pronoun, “I”. As in:

            I kicked the ball myself. (I kicked the ball all by myself.)

            I gave myself a gift.

            I could hardly forgive myself.

            I am happy with myself.

            These are wrong:

            Wrong: If it were up to myself, I would give it away.
(If it were up to me…)

    Wrong: Jim ran to the store with myself and our friend John.
(Jim ran to the store with me…)

            Wrong: Jim and myself gave a good presentation.
(Jim and I...)

   Wrong: There are many men here to help, including myself.
(There are many men here to help, including me.)

The best way to learn the correct usage the word “myself” is to simply not use it. Strike it from your vocabulary. Put that word into a reservoir of words to use only—ONLY—when you have no other options. This will force the use of the correct word, which will keep you from sounding dumber than a self-aware asparagus.

Memory Technique:

Jill told me
I should be
kind to myself.



photo: self portrait

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