Posted by: episystechpubs | April 15, 2013

Editor’s Corner: Rule 4 – The return of me, myself, and I

It’s a dreary day in San Diego—my hummingbird friend is nowhere to be found outside my window, the spider webs are filled with rain, and the gray skies remind me of my home far away. (Okay, maybe that last part is from John Denver singing about some country roads in West Virginia.)

What better way to cope with a dreary day? Or 88° weather in Allen? Or thunder showers in Monett and Springfield? Grammar!

Today, I left Ben Yagoda’s article “7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to,” completely intact. Okay…I did change the title of this section since it wasn’t really a rule, but everything else is his.

Rule 4: Avoid Pronoun Problems
Let’s take a look at three little words. Not "I love you," but me, myself and I. Grammatically, they can be called object, reflexive, and subject. As long as they’re by themselves, object and subject don’t give anyone problems. That is, no one who’s an adult native English speaker would say Me walked to the bus stop or He gave the book to I. For some reason, though, things can get tricky when a pronoun is paired with a noun. We all know people who say things like Me and Fred had lunch together yesterday, instead of Fred and I… Heck, most of us have said it ourselves; for some reason, it comes trippingly off the tongue. We also (most of us) know not to use it in a piece of writing meant to be published. Word to the wise: Don’t use it in a job interview, either.

There’s a similar attraction to using the subject instead of object. Even Bill Clinton did this back in 1992 when he asked voters to give Al Gore and I [instead of me] a chance to bring America back. Or you might say, Thanks for inviting my wife and I, or between you and I… Some linguists and grammarians have mounted vigorous and interesting defenses of this usage. However, it’s still generally considered wrong and should be avoided.

A word that’s recently become quite popular is myself — maybe because it seems like a compromise between I and me. But sentences like Myself and my friends went to the mall or They gave special awards to Bill and myself don’t wash. Change the first to My friends and I… and the second to Bill and me.

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