Me, Myself, and I

By Maeve Maddox

Just as the personal pronouns I and me are frequently used incorrectly–the subject form I used instead of the object form me, and vice versa–the reflexive pronoun myself sometimes crops up where I or me belong.

As personal pronouns, I and me stand in the place of nouns, while the reflexive pronouns like myself emphasize a noun or a pronoun that is already in use as a subject or object word. They are “mirror words” which reflect a word already expressed (hence the name “reflexive”).

The reflexive pronoun forms are:
Singular: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself
Plural: ourselves, yourselves, and themselves

The forms “hisself,” “yourselfs,” “theirselfs” and similar variations are dialect forms.

The reflexive pronouns have two main uses:

1. They serve as the objects of verbs when the object is the same person or thing as the subject: I hurt myself. The baby saw herself in the mirror. We lost ourselves in the woods.

2. They are used to restate or emphasize another noun or pronoun in the sentence: The king himself signed the proclamation. These witnesses swear they saw it themselves.

The following constructions are incorrect:

Myself and the others attended the concert.

Jack and yourself are my best friends.

Editing for reflexive pronoun usage is easy. If the “self” word comes after the verb, you can see at a glance if it restates the subject. If the “self” word is anywhere else in the sentence, look to see if there is another noun or pronoun that it restates or emphasizes. If there is none, you probably need to use a personal pronoun instead of a reflexive one.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


Share


15 Responses to “Me, Myself, and I”

  • takefive

    Very useful tips for me like non-native speakers. Thanks for your efforts.

  • Mikael Høilund

    What’s interesting, though, is the usage and meaning of “your self” and the like. Unless I am gravely mistaken, “Drag your self over here” is correct, albeit somewhat obscure.

  • Jensita

    Mikael,
    “Drag yourself over here” is correct because it is an imperative sentence, meaning that the implied subject of the sentence is “you” (as in “You, drag yourself over here”). So, it still follows the reflexive pronoun rule as mentioned in this blog entry.

  • Tarah Sweeney

    “The reflexive pronoun forms are:”

    This should be “The reflexive pronoun forms are the following:” or “A list of reflexive pronouns: ”

    and

    unless I am seriously mistaken, you should use “that” and not “which” in this sentence – “They are “mirror words” which reflect a word already expressed (hence the name “reflexive”).”

  • Maeve

    Tarah,
    I know of no rule that precludes the use of “are” in your example.

    As for “which” and “that,” the only rule I know of for their use is that “that” can stand for either a person or thing, while “which” is used only for things.

    Please refer me to the sources on which your comments are based.
    Thanks.

  • Tarah Sweeney

    Hi, Maeve

    Um, I believe in Grammar Girl. Which vs That and Colons.

  • sudharm baxi

    That was good and very helpful..

  • James Cai

    I ghostwrite an article weekly and always had problems with the me, myself and I pronoun dilemma. Awesome post.

  • John Broadwater

    This is an excellent clarification. I hear the word “myself” used incorrectly all the time, usually by someone who seems to think it’s very sophisticated.

  • irritated

    For some strange reason servers in restaurants must have decided in the last few years that using the word ‘You’ is unsophisticated and using ‘yourself’ is somehow much better.
    many, many of them now say “what can I get for youself?” or shortened too: ” and for yourself?

    which would only be the case if I was going into the kitchen and getting the food for Myself.

    What happened?

  • lola

    Which is correct?

    There is no difference between you and me.
    OR
    There is no difference between you and I.

  • Maeve

    Iola,
    A bit late, but I just read your question.

    When a preposition is the object of a verb or a preposition, the object form is called for. “Me” is the object of the preposition “between.” The correct sentence is “There is no difference between you and me.”

Leave a comment: