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Grammar Nuggets: Pronouns, Reflexive Pronouns, and Myself

Posted By Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP, Thursday, June 14, 2018
Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2018

While I’ve written about reflexive pronouns before, it is important enough that some of it bears repeating.


Pronouns are words that substitute for nouns and other pronouns. Personal pronouns are what we will be talking about here and they indicate the person speaking, the person spoken to, or the person or object spoken of. It is the Iyoumetheyhesheit of English. You typically choose the pronoun based on the person it is replacing. For instance:


·       She said it was too early (when she means Mary)

·       He drove his car like a maniac (where he means Bob).


The challenge comes with reflexive pronouns, which are pronouns that end in -self and reflect back on the pronoun previously mentioned. For example:


·       Mary said that it was hard to get up by herself 

·       Bill drove the car himself.


What is NOT correct is using the reflexive pronoun alone without it being able to reflect back on the pronoun. So, for instance, saying:


·       If you have any questions, talk to myself.

·       Tony and myself will go shopping for dinner today.


is not correct because in both places. Myself has nothing in the sentence to reflect back to. It should be:


·       If you have any questions, talk to me.

·       Tony and I will go shopping for dinner today.


Further examples are:


·       Send the meeting minutes to Bill and me (not myself) for approval 

·       Sue and I (not myself) are ready for vacation.


As for when to choose me and when to choose I, a little bit of adjusting and testing will make it easier to make the correct choice. For instance, in the sentences above:


·       If you have any questions, talk to me. You would say “talk to me” not “talk to I” and not “talk to myself,” so it should be “talk to me.”

·       Tony and I will go shopping for dinner today. If you were going by yourself, you would say “I will go shopping,” not “me will go shopping,” so “Tony and I will go shopping” is correct.

·       Send the meeting minutes to Bill and me for approval. Again, if you take Bill out, you would ask people to “send the meeting minutes to me for approval.”

·       Sue and I are ready for vacation. Take Sue out and you would say “I am ready for vacation.”


I hope all this makes it easier for you to use the proper reflexive pronouns when you’re talking about yourself (see what I did there?). Otherwise, I will continue to bang my head against the wall at hearing “myself” used inappropriately.

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Jacquelyn Hannigan (Firth) PP PLS says...
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2018
Another good article. Also, when someone writes: I, myself, am annoyed.
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