Sunday, November 16, 2008

STOP using "Myself" incorrectly

Why is no one paying any attention to the egregious error of using "Myself" as the subject of a sentence????????

Are we not teaching grammar in schools anymore? I hear this misuse over and over and over, and I refuse to accept that this is going to become proper usage just because it is being said over and over and over. Am I the only one screaming at t.v. screens and in some cases people I hear in shops just sounds ignorant to me.
WRONG: "Myself and the wife ..."
RIGHT: "My wife and I ..."
It is NEVER proper to use myself as the subject of a sentence. The pronoun myself is used primarily in two ways: first, as an intensive pronoun, it emphasizes or "intensives" the meaning of "I" in a statement such as "I myself have been known to commit a grammatical error or two."

The other is as a reflexive pronoun: in the statement "I hurt myself", myself allows the action of the verb (hurt) to "reflect" back upon the subject (I).

Don't use myself, yourself, himself or herself as the subject of a sentence.

Reflexive use reinforces the subject. That means
there must BE a subject. For instance, the sentence "I myself have done the very same thing" is correct. "I" is the subject. The word "myself" reinforces that you are talking about no one else other than the "I" that is the subject. It is also correct to use the reflexive in third person, as in the sentence "The boss herself told me I could do that."
Again, there is a subject that is being reinforced. "The boss" is the
subject. "Told" is the verb. You would have a sentence even if the reflexive word "herself," were removed, i.e. "The boss told me." Adding the word "herself" is for emphasis.

Consider the sentence "Paula, Tim, and myself went to
the show." Since "Paula, Tim, and myself" comprise the subject, they
must be in nominative case. Myself is NEVER nominative. It can NEVER be a subject. Therefore, the sentence should read, "Paula, Tim, and I went to the show." If the author of the sentence wishes to add emphasis to the "I," then the sentence can read, "Paula, Tim, and I myself went to the show."

Here are some practice exercises. Write C by the sentences that are correct. Rewrite the sentences that have errors.

1. Sam, Tim, and myself are headed camping now.
2. Give the paperwork to myself.
3. She accomplished that work all by herself.
4. They were concerned for theirselves in such an unsafe situation.
5. He just has to fix that hisself.
6. I want him to do the job himself.
7. I myself believe that also.
8. The players themselves are willing to clean the field.
9. She asked herself some probing questions.
10. He gave hisself a good lecture.
11. Sammy gave a copy of that memo to Jim, Tom, and myself.
12. Elizabeth sang quietly to herself.

Answer key:

1. Sam, Tim, and I are headed camping now.
2. Give the paperwork to me.
3. C
4. They were concerned for themselves in such an unsafe situation.
5. He just has to fix that himself.
6. C
7. C
8. C
9. C
10. He gave himself a good lecture.
11. Sammy gave a copy of that memo to Jim, Tom, and me
12. C
If you are reading this blog, I, myself, am likely preaching to the choir, but it is my number one bug at the moment. Here endeth the first lesson. Sheesh!

Myself and Other Reflexive Pronouns
by Elaine Ernst Schneider
January 31, 2001 rev. May 2003


  1. I myself have a problem with 'regime vs regimen'. A plan of action requires the use of 'regimen' while a political dictatorship is a 'regime'. To add to my beef, is the use of an adjective in place of an adverb. This is so commonplace that I'm afraid the adverb is on its way out. Would you believe I can't even think of an example. Must go have the think drink - coffee.

  2. We are still healing from Palin. Put aside the pen and sword adage. Palin's mouth is as damaging as her rifle.

  3. I myself am happy to report that my grammar has not failed me yet. I was able to find the incorrect sentences and change them accordingly. I figured it out all by myself.

  4. Ma Soeur,
    I could not have said it better myself!
    I myself am particularly irritated by the use of "her" and "him" as subjects.
    "Her and I went shopping." I even hear teachers saying such things, and my hair curls.
    I loved learning grammar in school. One of my favourite texts in the later years was "Mastering Effective English". One of the earlier textbooks we used was "Learning Our Language". All the exercises went from 'a' to 'j' and I loved when Mr. Butler marked our work in Grade Five with a turquoise fountain pen.
    This post brought back fond memories. Thank you ma soeur.

  5. Yowza girlfriend--you really have the grammar thing going on here. My pet peeve is people using lesser and fewer incorrectly. I once heard the head of the Ontario Teachers' Federation refer to " a lesser number of people" during an interview on TV. Needless to say, I was disgusted.

  6. "I refuse to accept that this is going to become proper usage just because it is being said over and over and over."

    Every time I say the above sentence to my friends, I get told that I should let the language evolve...

    "Are we not teaching grammar in schools anymore?"

    And when I ask my friends the above question, I am told that no, they did not learn grammar, not even in elementary school.

    English is my third language and I always try hard to speak it correctly. I am often surprised at how sloppy people are. And I am so happy when I run into grammar defenders like you! =o).

    The error that drives me the most nuts is it's versus its.

  7. I've found that people who go nuts when others misuse grammer, are those who have not achieved their own literary ambition.

  8. My pet peeves:
    historic and historical
    who and whom
    he and him

    if we are to let the language evolve, please let it not begin in Alaska.

  9. I think "myself" is a casualty of the "I/me" debacle.

    People everywhere from newscasters to politicians have it inculcated in their rat brains that using "me" is wrong and so they use "I" all the time. I think that there comes some point when "I" sounds so horrible that they just can't force themselves to utter it but their "me" phobia drives them to "myself". Even Barak Obama in his YouTube chat got this one wrong - what sort of leadership is that?

    The one time this really makes me choke a little laugh is in tv shows where the character is supposed to be exaggeratedly proper, avoiding even contractions, yet they still don't know the difference between "I" and "me". (Stargate Atlantis, you're the worst!)

    Cure people's phobia of using "me" and I think you'll cure the "myself" problem as well.