A while back, I wrote a fun blog post called The Plural of Book Is NOT Book’s, and since then, readers from all over have been sending me their own grammar pet peeves. I love reading them because they prove I’m not alone in my quest to make the world a better place by eliminating one grammatical error at a time.
One of the most common messages I get is about the misuse of “myself,” which I admit drives me nuts, too. Let’s be clear: MYSELF IS NOT A SUBJECT OR OBJECT PRONOUN. (Full disclosure: Some points of view condone an “informal” use of myself as a subject or object pronoun, but to me, that’s like condoning the use of “ain’t” because so many people use it.)
I, you, he, she, we, and they are subject pronouns, which means they can be used interchangeably with subjects, such as people’s names, in a sentence. For example, all of the following are correct:
CORRECT: Mark, Bella, and I went to the movies.
CORRECT: He, she, and I went to the movies.
CORRECT: They and I went to the movies.
CORRECT: We all went to the movies.
Me, you, him, her, us, and them are object pronouns, which means they can be used interchangeably with objects, such as people’s names, in a sentence. For example, all of the following are correct:
CORRECT: He gave the movie tickets to Mark, Bella, and me.
CORRECT: He gave the movie tickets to him, her, and me.
CORRECT: He gave the movie tickets to them and me.
CORRECT: He gave the movies tickets to us.
“Myself” is neither a subject pronoun nor an object pronoun. It is only to be used when the speaker is speaking in the reflexive sense, e.g. talking about something done to himself or by himself. For example, the following are correct:
CORRECT: I did it myself.
CORRECT: I gave myself a pat on the back.
CORRECT: She asked me for a picture of myself.
Here are some examples of how NOT to use “myself”:
INCORRECT: The gift was from Monica and myself.
(CORRECT: The gift was from Monica and me.)
INCORRECT: The group was made up of myself, my mom, and my dad.
(CORRECT: The group was made up of me, my mom, and my dad.)
I know this may be a bit confusing, but try to remember this: The only pronouns that replace the narrator of a sentence as a standard subject or an object are I and ME. Just use one of those, and you’ll be good.
Palo Alto native Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at www.mariamurnane.com.
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