Buckle up, friends. This Writing Wednesday is fueled by years of frustration over the misuse of one very simple word:
By definition, myself is used when the speaker is the object of a verb or preposition and the subject of that clause.
BUT, that’s a lot of grammar jargon, so look at it this way: The majority of instances in which ‘myself’ should be used feature you as the doer and receiver of an action.
- “I hit myself in the face with a stick the other day.“
- “I don’t trust myself with a fresh sleeve of Ritz Crackers.”
It’s also valid when referring to your actual self!
- “Yesterday was the first time in a while I actually felt like myself.”
- “I gave Becca a picture of myself for the senior video.”
When is myself not valid? Anytime you use it in place of ‘me’ or ‘I’.
“Bryant and myself sat together at lunch.”
Stop. Doing. That.
There’s a common misconception that replacing ‘me’ or ‘I’ with ‘myself’ sounds smarter, maybe because it’s more formal?
And it’s almost always in conjunction with another person! It’s SO WEIRD.
“If you have any questions, please find Bob or myself.”
Myself does not mean the same thing as me or I.
Imagine using ‘yourself’ in place of ‘you’:
- “I told yourself not to eat that extra Snickers.”
- “Did yourself really think they’d fire that coach?”
Same principle. Just as dumb.
And don’t go back to that “actual self” rule like, “But I am my actual self.” Find a sentence in which you’d use ‘I’, use ‘myself’ instead, and tell me (with a straight face) that it feels normal.
“Myself am so tired right now.”
There is nothing wrong with me or I.
If you’re worried about getting them confused, I will gladly dedicate a whole other Wednesday to those tips. Just let me know! Ya know?
Title Credit: Beyoncé