Tuesday’s Tips: Me, Myself, and I

Most people understand the basic rules governing the first-person pronoun:

  • “I” is the subjective form of the pronoun, meaning it is used as the subject of sentences and phrases: I like to garden.
  • “Me” is the objective form of the pronoun, meaning it is used as the object of sentences and phrases: Brad gave me his number.
  • “Myself” is a reflexive pronoun, meaning it is used only as the object of a sentence or phrase where “I” is the subject: I cut myself slicing bread. It can also be used as an appositive, for emphasis: I wrote the report myself. Note that “I” is still the subject.

Most errors come from confusing these forms in compound subjects (such as “my sister and I”) or objects (“my sister and me”). For example:

My sister and I volunteer at the animal shelter.

Both “my sister” and “I” are the subjects of the sentence. You wouldn’t say “My sister and me volunteer at the animal shelter” because “Me volunteer at the animal shelter” makes no sense; it’s incorrect. Rather, “I volunteer at the animal shelter.” The rule doesn’t change just because another subject is added.

Similarly:

Mother asked Bobby and me if we would help her this Thursday.

Many people want to say “Bobby and I” in this construction, but that would be incorrect. Both “Bobby” and “me” are the direct objects of the sentence. You woudn’t say, “Mother asked I if we would help her this Thursday” because it’s incorrect. Again, the rule doesn’t change just because we’ve added another direct object.

“Myself” is also commonly misused in place of “I” or “me.” A construction like John and myself will be hosting the gala is incorrect because “myself” isn’t referring to something I did to myself. The proper pronoun in this sentence would be I. Similarly, “The report was written by myself” should read, “The report was written by me,” or better yet, “I wrote the report.”

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