Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, grammar, me, me/myself/I, personal pronouns, Principle A violation, reflexive pronouns
On his Literal-Minded blog, Neal Whitman explains more about how reflexive pronouns are used correctly in an embarrassing episode from his past:
“Maddie, Ed, Deanna, and Jennifer are riding together,” said Chad. “Michelle will be riding with myself, and …”
With myself? I thought. Why was Chad talking in that pompous way? Why didn’t he just say with me? This kind of myself-abuse was one of my grammar peeves.
Syntacticians have a name for what Chad did, but it’s not a very well-chosen name. They call it a Principle A violation. If I had named it, I would have called Principle A the Reflexive Rule. It’s the rule that says that in Standard English (and other languages, too), reflexive pronouns are used when a grammatical object of a verb or preposition refers to someone already mentioned earlier in the same clause…
Whitman goes on to explain how he embarrassed himself (note correct use of reflexive pronoun) — not by using myself incorrectly but by correcting someone else who had (in, perhaps, less than ideal circumstances for a teachable moment). Oh, he was correct, grammatically. But were his motives suspect?