A Word with Beth — about Me, Myself and I (Part Two)

May 18, 2014

Owl photographed by Raymond W. Stilborn.
Owl photographed by Raymond W. Stilborn.

As I indicated last month, the Owl really gets his grammar feathers in a twist when it comes to the use and misuse of the word Myself.

In an attempt to smooth the Owl’s feathers, I’d like to mention a few of the ways Myself is abused in conversation, writing, and speech-making, and suggest alternatives.

“On behalf of myself and my family, I would like to thank…” ~~ The phrase on behalf of indicates that you are doing something either to benefit someone, or as the representative of someone (see this definition of the phrase at dictionary.com). So you can act as a representative of your entire family in your speech of thanks, but you are already yourself. You do not need to represent yourself. Simply say, “On behalf of my family, I would like to thank…” or “On behalf of the family, I would like to thank…”

Keep the Owl happy — never say “On behalf of myself…”

“Janie and myself are pleased…” “Send the response to myself…” ~~ People often think that Myself sounds classier, or more dignified than plain old, everyday I or Me. Unfortunately, in most cases it merely sounds ungrammatical. Simply say “Janie and I are pleased…” and “Send the response to me.” The Owl will be pleased, too.

I hear you asking, “So, Owl and/or Beth, is it ever correct to use Myself?”

Yes, it is! It’s a matter of those pesky subjects and objects again. Myself is one of the parts of speech known as reflexive pronouns. These pronouns refer (or reflect) back to the word that is the subject of the sentence. A reflexive pronoun is never the subject. Never. Ever.

Myself is used either as the object of a sentence — as in sentences such as “I picked up the book for myself” or “I dressed myself”

OR

Myself can be used to provide emphasis, as well. I myself know this to be true. Notice that the sentence is fine without myself — I know this to be true.

For those who wonder, other reflexive pronouns such as himself or herself follow the same rules.

~ ~ ~

A Word With Beth is posted on the third Monday of each month.

If you have any grammar or word use questions, please send an email to mail (at) flubs2fixes (dot) com OR ask in the comments below this post — I look forward to helping you with your grammatical conundrums.

13 People reacted on this

  1. Me, Myself and I can be tricky when writing, but I do enjoy them more when I’m doing a blog post where Me, Myself and I are going at with each other about some topic.

  2. Thank you for the clarifications. I am afraid to write more for fear of offending the Owl. 🙂

  3. Brilliant, Beth! I can relate to your thoughts, “People often think that Myself sounds classier, or more dignified that [than ☺︎] plain old, everyday I or Me.” On behalf of my students, I want to thank the Wise ol’ Owl.

    1. Thanks, Suzy — and thanks for catching my typo! Shows that everyone makes the occasional typo, and it’s much harder to see them in one’s own work.

      1. As writers, Beth, we write, revise & edit and then revise & edit some more. It is easy to overlook a typo. Many read and think about what makes sense, while reading, not even noting grammar or spelling errors. As an educator, spelling errors catch my attention. Occasionally, I note errors in published articles, such as newspapers. A common mistake, that I find annoying, is the use of the following homophones: their, there, and they’re. My writing is not always flawless and yet I tend to *silently* correct the writing of others.

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