Using "Myself" Correctly

Grammar Girl addresses a growing problem, which I myself have noticed. A listener complains to GG about the substitution of “myself” for “me.” It’s “please contact me” not “please contact myself.”  It is a reflexive pronoun. It may be used to intensify the subject (as above) or to refer to the subject later in the sentence. GG gives this example, “I see myself playing marimbas.” Myself is appropriate here because the subject is the same as the object.

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  1. So I should describe my near-death experience thus: “As I floated toward the light, I looked down and saw myself on the operating table. And I says to myself, I says, I says, ‘Self, you know it is appointed to man to only die once.'”

  2. Great post. I posit that we have a learned fear of using the word “me” after being admonished by our mothers for years for using “me” instead of “I” as the subject of a sentence. Shame on you, mothers.

  3. “Please see myself,” is bad, but what really gets me exercised is the use of the reflexive pronoun in place of the subjective. Recently I received, “Myself and my team are looking into this,” from our local police sergeant in a round-robin. It makes me tear my hair out.

    • Why is this such a problem? One function of “myself” is that it intensifies the subject. If one take the subject “I” as understood here, then the speaker is saying “I, myself, and my team…” That is, “I’m not just leaving it up to my team, but I am taking a personal interest in it…”

  4. I’m no grammar expert, but the words “I myself” in the clause “which I myself have noticed” strike me as redundant. Scott, do you have another self, as opposed to your “I myself,” that could have noticed this as well?

  5. “Said I to myself, said I . . .” A line from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Which one now?

  6. Not the Mikado, but Iolanthe:
    by W. S. Gilbert

    When I went to the Bar as a very young man
    (Said I to myself–said I),
    I’ll work on a new and original plan
    (Said I to myself–said I),
    I’ll never assume that a rogue or a thief
    Is a gentleman worthy implicit belief,
    Because his attorney has sent me a brief
    (Said I to myself–said I!)

    I’ll never throw dust in a juryman’s eyes
    (Said I to myself–said I),
    Or hoodwink a judge who is not over-wise
    (Said I to myself–said I),
    Or assume that the witnesses summoned in force
    In Exchequer, Queen’s Bench, Common Pleas, or Divorce,
    Have perjured themselves as a matter of course
    (Said I to myself–said I!)

    Ere I go into court I will read my brief through
    (Said I to myself–said I),
    And I’ll never take work I’m unable to do
    (Said I to myself–said I).
    My learned profession I’ll never disgrace
    By taking a fee with a grin on my face,
    When I haven’t been there to attend to the case
    (Said I to myself–said I!)

    In other professions in which men engage
    (Said I to myself–said I),
    The Army, the Navy, the Church, and the Stage
    (Said I to myself–said I),
    Professional license, if carried too far,
    Your chance of promotion will certainly mar–
    And I fancy the rule might apply to the Bar
    (Said I to myself–said I!)

    Gilbert had us attorneys pegged.

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