Posted by: episystechpubs | July 21, 2020

Editor’s Corner: Myself

Hello, folks! Today I want to talk a little bit about myself. Not actually me, but the word myself. One of our coworkers is tired of people using the word at the wrong time and asked for one of the editors to cover it in Editor’s Corner, without a lot of mind-numbing grammar.

The main problem is that people seem to get confused about when to say me vs. myself. When in doubt, people like to opt for the longer word because it sounds fancier or more educated. But when you use it incorrectly, it has the opposite effect, and our coworker (who shall remain nameless) cringes and texts me to say, “It happened again.”

Here it is in a nutshell: The only time you should use myself is when you are referring back to the pronoun I. The only time you use yourself is when referring back to the pronoun you. And the same goes with himself, herself, and themselves, which refer to him, her, and they/them, respectively. Uh-oh. Mind numbing? Let’s see examples of what works and what is correct:

  • I made dinner and set the table myself.
  • She thinks of herself as a true intellectual.
  • You might think you learned a lesson, but you are fooling yourself.
  • The fire fighters exercise at the park to keep themselves in shape.
  • When I look at myself in the mirror, I wonder if the acne will go away when I retire.
  • He found himself staring at the ravioli, as if he hadn’t eaten for a week.

Now here is what you don’t say:

  • Give the cupcakes to Rick and myself.
  • Jason and myself are going to play bocce ball this weekend.

As you can see, those last two examples aren’t referring to I anywhere in the sentence, so they should not include myself. Here are some more examples of what works, what doesn’t, and a little secret that can help you remember when to use me instead of myself.

Correct:

Give the cupcakes to Rick and me.

Incorrect:

Give the cupcakes to Rick and I.

Give the cupcakes to Rick and myself.

Reread those sentences. This time, get rid of Rick! When you take him away, you are left with these results:

Correct:

Give the cupcakes to me.

Incorrect:

Give the cupcakes to I.

Give the cupcakes to myself. (Remember you need to be referring back to I here to use myself. There’s no Rick, there’s no I. Don’t do it!)

Next time you think of using myself, yourself, or another “self” pronoun, make sure it is referring to the correct subject (I, you, etc.) earlier in the sentence. If you find yourself saying something like, “Give the report to Joe or myself,” stop, recognize it is incorrect, and correct yourself before you wreck yourself: “Give the report to Joe or me.” It’s okay. Better to recognize your mistake and correct it than earn the wrath of your coworker (who shall still remain nameless).

For past lessons and the grammar, see these articles:

https://episystechpubs.com/2012/08/15/editors-corner-me-myself-and-i/

https://episystechpubs.com/2013/04/15/editors-corner-rule-4-the-return-of-me-myself-and-i/

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

Editor’s Corner Archives: https://episystechpubs.com/


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