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It’s the first installment of Grammar Guru for 2022, and the perfect time to discuss something I am seeing and hearing everywhere. This is many language nerds’ biggest grammar gripe. Unlike many of the topics I tackle, this issue is rampant in both spoken and written English. Some of you might be thinking that, surely, you are an exception — but I can assure you that I have heard even the smartest of the smart botch this one.

We are using “myself” so, so wrongly, y’all. It’s become this thing to NOT use the little ol’ words “me” or “I” in certain scenarios when we are trying to sound … humble? Smart? Using a bigger word incorrectly does not make you sound smarter. Athletes, politicians, and people giving performative speeches do this a lot. Let’s look at some common examples of how “myself” is used unnecessarily. Follow along below and watch the video! It’s short but sweet.

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INCORRECT: The team will include Sam, Henry, and myself.
ALSO INCORRECT: The team will include Sam, Henry, and I. 
CORRECT: The team will include Sam, Henry, and me.
TRICK TO REMEMBER: Take Sam and Henry away. The team will include ME not The team will include I.

INCORRECT: Please send the link to Chloe and myself.
ALSO INCORRECT: Please send the link to Chloe and I.
CORRECT: Please send the link to Chloe and me.
TRICK TO REMEMBER: Take Chloe away. Please send the link to ME.

INCORRECT: For procrastinators like myself, it’s hard to meet deadlines.
CORRECT: For procrastinators like me, it’s hard to meet deadlines.

INCORRECT: Myself or Jane will be right with you.
ALSO INCORRECT: Jane or myself will be right with you.
CORRECT: Jane or I will be right with you.
TRICK TO REMEMBER: Take Jane away. I will be right with you.

INCORRECT: It was myself and my colleague who pitched the winning idea.
ALSO INCORRECT: It was me and my colleague who pitched the winning idea.
CORRECT: It was my colleague and I who pitched the winning idea.
TRICK TO REMEMBER: Take the colleague away. I pitched the winning idea.

We also use the word “yourself” incorrectly to seemingly try to elevate the language of flattery.

INCORRECT: It’s an honor to talk to someone as accomplished as yourself.
CORRECT: It’s an honor to talk to someone as accomplished as you.

You would never say, “It’s an honor to talk to yourself.” Right?

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Are we trying to be less direct when referring to ourselves? Do we think it sounds egotistical to say “me” or “you”? Do we think we sound smarter by using a bigger word? It’s hard to pin down why this habit is so rampant.

“Myself” is a reflexive pronoun, meaning it refers to ME doing something to or for MYSELF. It must have a subject, and it’s not a substitute for a regular pronoun like “I” or “me.”

CORRECT: I’m buying myself those boots as a birthday gift.
CORRECT: I accidentally whacked myself on the head.
CORRECT: It’s hard for me to get myself up in the morning.

See how there is a subject (I or me) and then the pronoun (myself)? The ONLY other time “myself” can be used correctly is to show emphasis or to stress a point.

CORRECT: I, myself, prefer winter over summer.
CORRECT: I, myself, would never pay that much for shoes.

It can sound redundant or even a bit dramatic, but it’s not incorrect.

To sum it all up: Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn, and don’t overcomplicate things! If you can change “myself” to “me” or “I,” it must be “me” or “I.” If you don’t know which one to use, remove the other person from the scenario and say the sentence out loud.

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For more grammar, spelling, and word usage tricks, head to our Grammar Guru archives HERE!

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