Thursday, October 08, 2009

Me, Myself, and I

This post does not refer to any of you. I just need to put this out there hoping that maybe someone who really needs it will see it and there will be one less incorrectly used pronoun in this world. You see, lately I have received a glut of emails in which the writer uses "myself" when they really mean "me" or "I." Every time I read it, I cringe a little. Normally, I let it slide. I realize that I am a grammar nerd and not everyone knows or cares to know when to use lay or lie, or that one feels bad, not badly (unless there is really something wrong with their sense of touch). (No, seriously, I'm such a word nerd that I had a dream recently about explaining the difference between "proved" and "proven.")

First and foremost, never use "myself" in place of "I" or "me"--ever!! Myself is a reflexive pronoun and needs to reflect the subject. In technical grammar terms, reflexive pronouns (myself, yourself, itself, etc) are objects and used in these instances: 1) when the subject and the object are the same ("I hate myself for loving you."); 2) when the object of the preposition refers to the subject ("Sisters are doing it for themselves."); or 3) to emphasize the subject ("I do The Rock myself"*).

So, what's the answer to the question "Who is coming to the meeting?" "Joe, Steve and I are coming to the meeting." Not Joe, Steve and me?? No. Me is an object, as in "I bought coffee for Joe, Steve and me." Wait, no; that's Joe, Steve and myself. Were you paying attention? I wasn't. Okay, um...."They bought coffee for Joe, Steve and me." Yeah, that works.

Oh, and while I'm here--when listing people, "you" always comes first (and then rolls over and goes to sleep--hee hee), and the speaker comes last. So, who is going to the conference? You, Billy Bob, Shirlene, and I are going to the conference.

Special thanks to Joan Jett, Annie Lennox and Tim Curry for their excellent examples. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest and not explode at people with Masters degrees.

*Punctuation crisis!! Do I need a comma before "myself"? I want to put it there but I'm not sure. Argh. Annika? Anyone? Damn, I'm usually so good at punctuation. I blame stress at work.

I have edited this post about 10 times now. I really shouldn't post when I'm tired and cranky.


Annika said...

I would only use the comma if the statement were a response. For example:

-I do the shimmy.

-I do the rock, myself.

That's the best I can do description-wise, as I am basically asleep.

Anonymous said...

You are cracking me up! I thought I knew a thing or two about grammer. Ms. Ogara corrected me on the Myself thing back when it was popular to say "well, I myself think..."
You should be in the classroom!
xo Y.K.W. (you know who)

woolanthropy said...

Hey...why aren't you teaching?

This is a true talent.

Ellen Bloom said...

Ms. Carla would be soooo proud of you!

MonkeyGurrrrrl said...

Gawd, the nuns would love you!

Don't hate me b/c I have a masters degree and absolutely no sense of proper grammar...