Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog


October 14, 2009  4:30 PM

‘Myself’ abuse — understanding first person singular



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, first person singular, grammar, me/myself/I, personal pronouns, pronouns, Quiz

Note:The following first appeared on Turner Ink

Myself abuse is rampant online and nowhere more so than in business communications. My fond hope is that the following rant might shine a little light into the dark corners of the Internet and, perhaps, stop one person from saying myself when the right word is I or me.

As Dr. Grammar says, “In the old days when people studied traditional grammar, we could simply say, ‘The first person singular pronoun is I when it’s a subject and me when it’s an object,’ but now few people know what that means.” How true! How sad.

What you should make note of from that, whether or not you know the parts of a sentence, is that myself is NOT one of your options for the subject or object of a sentence (except in the case where the subject and object are the same individual — I’ll explain more about that later).

Here are some terribly typical examples of myself abuse:

CEO: “Both the CFO and myself are very pleased with the second quarter results.” Ugh.

When you’ve got a compound subject (more than one “doer” in a sentence), you can get an idea of how wrong myself is by taking the other person out of the equation. In this case, you’re left with: “Myself am very pleased with the second quarter results.” Now, what you have understand is that the first sentence sounds every bit as stupid as that one to people who have a grasp of this grammatical rule. And there could be some listening to you.

CEO: “The second quarter results delighted both the CFO and myself.” (Does “The second quarter results delighted myself” sound okay to you? I hope not.)

Let’s look at a couple more all-too typical examples of myself abuse:

Wrong: John or myself will be available for questions after the presentation. (Myself will be available for questions after the presentation.)

Right: John or I will be available for questions after the presentation. (I will be available for questions after the presentation.)

Wrong: Please call John or myself if you have any questions. (Please call myself if you have any questions.)

Right: Please call John or me if you have any questions. (Please call me if you have any questions.)

The most common correct use of the word myself is as a reflexive pronoun. (This is what I was talking about earlier.) That means that the subject and the object of the sentence are the same individual. Here’s an example of how that works in a sentence: I embarrass myself when I use the wrong word.

Only I can do anything to myself, grammatically speaking. Same thing for you and yourself, he and himself, she and herself. If, for example, anyone else is doing the calling in the above sentence, they have to call me – myself is not taking calls.

I, myself is a construction that some find objectionable but that is not strictly incorrect. It’s generally used to emphasize a personal preference or difference and to indicate that the preference or difference may vary from the norm.

Here’s an example:

“I, myself, would rather stick sharp objects in my eyes than hear the CEO refer to himself as ‘myself’ one more time.”

The issue with myself abuse may be mostly that people can’t stop and think which pronoun to use when they’re in the middle of speaking. However, even if you can’t quickly work it out, I suggest you choose either I or me and run with it because that will give you a 50-50 chance of being right. Don’t just default to myself — that will make you wrong 100 percent of the time.

Ivy Wigmore is Content Editor on WhatIs.com and chief grammar blogger on Writing for Business. You can follow her on Twitter @tao_of_grammar.

October 9, 2009  5:07 PM

Web site or website?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, grammar, Quiz, spelling, Web site or website

Which is correct?
According to COPPA, _________ must require parental consent for the collection or use of any personal information of young site users.
a. Web sites
b. websites
Continued »


October 9, 2009  4:22 PM

Procedes or proceeds?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, commonly misspelled words, Quiz, spelling

Which is correct?
RDC is unlikely to ever be as secure as the traditional deposit method, in which the bank must receive the physical check before it _______ to deposit funds to the customer’s account.
a. procedes
b. proceeds
Continued »


October 7, 2009  8:50 PM

Easier vs. more easily



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
adjectives, adverbs, Business writing, CIO, easier vs. more easily, grammar, parts of speech, Quiz

Which is correct?
When a firewall uses static packet inspection, an attacker can get through the filter _______.
a. easier
b. more easily
Continued »


October 7, 2009  2:14 PM

Colons and semicolons



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, colons and semicolons, grammar, introducing lists, punctuation, Quiz

Which is correct?
A bar code symbol typically consists of five _____ a quiet zone, a start character, data characters, a stop character and another quiet zone.
a. parts:
b. parts;
Continued »


October 5, 2009  12:56 PM

When does AP condone the serial comma?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, commas, grammar, punctuation, Quiz, serial comma

Which is correct?
Degaussing is used for a wide and disparate variety of items including ship hulls, _______ and CRT television sets and computer monitors.
a. storage media
b. storage media,
Continued »


October 2, 2009  2:02 PM

Commas to set off occupations?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, commas, commas to set off occupations, grammar, punctuation, Quiz

Which is correct?
Bookmarklets are just one of the Web-related interests of ____________ Steve Kangas.
a. the mathematician,
b. the mathematician
Continued »


October 1, 2009  2:19 PM

Come down the pipe or the pike?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, commonly misused expressions, grammar, homophones, Quiz

Which is correct?
According to some experts, RATs are the most dangerous creatures to _________________
a. come down the pipe.
b. come down the pike.
Continued »


September 30, 2009  4:41 PM

When should you use commas with “such as” and “including”?



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, commas, grammar, including, punctuation, Quiz, such as

Which is correct?
We have received expressions of concern about wiretap Trojans from various _________ the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and the Privacy Coalition.
a. groups, including
b. groups including
Continued »


September 29, 2009  5:23 PM

Collective nouns and subject – verb agreement



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Business writing, CIO, collective nouns, grammar, Quiz, subject-verb agreement

Which is correct?
As the prevalence of VoIP increases, so ____ the number of attempts to exploit it.
a. do
b. does
Continued »


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