to list of language debates
Links in this essay will take you to information about the usage experts and their work. Numbers in parentheses are page references.
For more about using I, me, and myself, see section 24 in The Bedford Handbook, Sixth Edition.
has two correct uses: The word can serve as a reflexive
pronoun (I hurt myself) or an intensive pronoun
(I made the pie myself). Any other uses are suspect.
In particular, using myself in place of I or me
is nonstandard, as in the following examples.
Professor Gray and myself will deliver a joint
lecture on Tuesday.
The prosecutor asked the police officer and myself
to testify at the trial.
is it, then, that so many educated people use myself
in these ways? Experts offer a number of explanations,
none of which are flattering. Perhaps the educated speaker
or writer, fearful of getting I or me
wrong, opts for myself. As Patricia
O’Conner puts it, “In the contest between
I and me, the booby prize often goes to
myself ” (13). Barbara
Wallraff writes that the error is “a genteelism—and
that’s not a compliment” (227). Richard
Lederer and Richard Dowis agree with Wallraff that
writers who break the rule may be doing so “to
give their discourse a touch of what they imagine to
be elegance” (48). Bryan
Garner is somewhat kinder. He suggests that those
who misuse myself may mistakenly believe that
the word is somehow more modest than I or me
does have a few defenders. According to
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language,
using myself in place of I or me
has been “common in the writing of reputable authors
for several centuries.” The editors admit, however,
that such usage can sound “overwrought,”
and fully 88 percent of the dictionary’s most
recent usage panel objected to the sentence The boss
asked John and myself to give a brief presentation.
earlier usage panel also objected to such sentences,
and many of the panelists’ comments revealed strong
feelings. For example, one remarked, “Sounds grotesquely
formal,” and another wrote, “Surely only
the ignorant indulge in so crass an example of bad grammar”
Avoid using myself in place of I or me.
Although not everyone thinks it’s wrong to use
the word this way, those who disapprove do so vehemently.
And they find the myself error not only wrong