Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Sep 27 2012   2:07PM GMT

There are two ways—and two ways ONLY—that you can correctly refer to yourself as “myself”



Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
Tags:
CIO
intensive pronouns
me/myself/I
personal pronouns

Is this sentence grammatically correct?
I, myself, would never dream of sharing an offer for a free $250 Walmart gift card on Facebook, but people do it all the time.


Answer: Yes.

Explanation:

There are two ways—and two ways only—that you can refer to yourself as “myself” in a sentence. Both of them involve sentences that also include either “I” or “me.”  In this case, “myself” is an intensive pronoun, added for emphasis. The other correct usage is as a reflexive pronoun, for example when “I” is the subject of the sentence—the actor—and “myself” is the object—the one acted upon. Here’s an example: “I embarrass myself when I use incorrect grammar.”

Here’s what you can’t do—and if you think you can, you are wrong: You cannot replace “I” or “me” in a sentence with “myself.” That use is incorrect, despite the frequency with which it’s used in the business world. It’s used so frequently, in fact, that I can imagine a day when the grammatical rule is changed to reflect use. However, I will fight that change with the last breath in my body.

The problem usually occurs when the writer or speaker is referring to themselves in conjunction with another person. One easy way to see if “myself” is correct is to take that other person out of the equation.

Example: If you have any questions, please call John or myself.

Would you ever say “Please call myself”? I hope not.  See more examples here and more information about personal pronouns here. Take this quiz if you like: Pronoun quiz: This time it’s personal

Are you a business person (or a politician—they’re pretty bad too)? Do you refer to yourself as “myself” incessantly and incorrectly? Please stop. It makes you look stupid.

I’ll admit that incorrect use of “myself” is my #1 pet peeve. Usually I would have said “makes you look less intelligent than you might wish” instead of “makes you look stupid.” In this case, I just barely held myself back from typing “makes you look like an idiot.” Probably in caps.

The better-tempered Richard Nordquist provides more information about intensive pronouns.

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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  • conniebky
    THANK YOU !  I live in Kentucky and the people here who try to sound fancy say things like, "So, a donut for Mary and one for myself".  This just drives me crazy.
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