Posted by: episystechpubs | March 13, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Myself

Good morning! I may be a bit unpredictable with the Editor’s Corner for the next couple of weeks. My faithful friend, cohort, and editor (yes, even editors need an editor), Honey Badger, is on vacation. Twice the work, twice the fun, half the time! Extra credit if you can work out that math. 🙂

The question is: When should I use the reflexive pronoun myself? You may hear people say something such as “Please send your response to Minnie Pearl, Jocko, or myself,” which is incorrect. Let’s have a look at why.

If you were to say the sentence without the other people, how would you say it? “Please send your response to me,” not “Please send your response to myself.” When you add the other people back into the mix, you have the correct answer: “Please send your response to Minnie Pearl, Jocko, or me.”

As I mentioned above, the word myself is a reflexive pronoun. Picture—if you will—a mirror. You are standing in front of it, and you say, “I see myself in the mirror, and what a lovely reflection it is!” You are reflecting (reflexive) upon yourself (pronoun).

From Grammar Girl (www.quickanddirtytips.com):

Other reflexive pronouns include himself, herself, yourself, itself, and themselves. A reflexive pronoun is always the object of a sentence; it can never be the subject. A subject is the one doing something in a sentence, and the object is the one having something done to it. If I step on Squiggly, I am the subject and Squiggly is the object.

You would never say, “Myself stepped on Squiggly,” so you would also never say, “Aardvark and myself stepped on Squiggly.”

Another case where it is correct to use myself is when you are both the subject and the object of a sentence. For example, “I see myself playing marimbas,” or, “I’m going to treat myself to a mud bath.” In both of these cases you are the object of your own action, so myself is the right word to use.

Use Reflexive Pronouns to Add Emphasis

Reflexive pronouns can also be used to add emphasis to a sentence. For example, if you had witnessed a murder, you could say, “I myself saw the madman’s handiwork.” Sure, it’s a tad dramatic, but it’s grammatically correct. If you want to emphasize how proud you are of your new artwork, you could say, “I painted it myself.” Again, myself just adds emphasis. The meaning of the sentence doesn’t change if you take out the word myself; it just has a different feeling because now it lacks the added emphasis.

The quick and dirty tip is to think about how you would write the sentence if you were the only one in it, and then use that pronoun.

I hope you are not thoroughly confused now! At the risk of running a little long, here is another hint and some examples from GrammarBook.com:

Reflexive pronouns – myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves– should be used only when they refer back to another word in the sentence.

Incorrect:
My brother and myself did it.
The word myself does not refer back to another word.

Correct:
My brother and I did it.


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