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Choosing the Right Word

Me, Myself and Me

What’s wrong with me? Both speakers and writers seem averse to correctly using this basic  pronoun. Instead of using me when appropriate, they end up sounding hoity-toity by asking, “Could you bring a glass of Merlot for the lady and myself?” or “Let’s keep it just between you and I.”  In both of those examples, the correct pronoun is me.

So what’s the problem?  Maybe it’s Cookie Monster’s fault. Ever since he popularized the saying “Me want cookie,” literate adults seem to think there’s something tacky about using me. How wrong they are. Many Writamins subscribers have lamented the improper usage of me and myself. Here is what you need to know about these pronouns:
Myself is a personal pronoun, used:

  • As an intensifier of I [I saw it myself, I myself knew it was a lie],
  • As a reflexive [I hurt myself, I bought myself a car], or
  • With the meaning “my real, true, or normal self” [I am not myself today.]
Some people use it as a synonym for me, as in, “He spoke to John and myself.” This is a non-standard usage and should be avoided in business writing.  If you are referring to the object of an action or the object of a preposition, the correct word is me, as in, He spoke to John and me. There is nothing classy about using myself instead of me

If you are ever in doubt about whether to use me, myself, or I, simplify the sentence. For example, in the sentence Please bring a glass of Merlot for the lady and myself, you would take away the lady and realize that since the word for is a preposition, the correct pronoun must be me.  The object of the preposition is always in the objective case.

In phrases that begin with the preposition between, the correct pronoun is always me.  You don’t need to know the grammar lingo – just ask yourself if it sounds right to say Just between I or Just between we. It’s always between you and me.

Many grammar experts disapprove of the use of -self pronouns when they do not refer to the subject of the sentence. Sentences like the fo
llowing are NOT correct:
  • He was an enthusiastic fisherman like myself.
  • The letters were written entirely by myself.
  • The boss asked John and myself to give a brief presentation.
In all the above cases, the correct pronoun is me.

I myself side with the grammar mavens on this topic. Between you and me, don’t be afraid to use me

© 2011 Elizabeth Danziger

Tired of reading unclear, error-filled writing from your organization? Ready to transform the quality of your firm’s writing? Contact Elizabeth Danziger today to learn about the Worktalk Core Writing Trainings.  Call (310) 396-8303 or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Why choose WorkTalk trainings?

  • Taught by a professional writer. +

    These courses are not taught by a general skills trainer who happens to teach writing. Elizabeth Danziger has been published by major publishing houses such as Random House and Harcourt Brace. Her work has appeared in many national magazines. She is an expert writer and editor who brings her knowledge as a resource to participants.
  • Customized. +

    Every Worktalk training is customized to the client's needs. We meet with you, analyze writing samples from your organization, and customize our training to target the specific challenges that employees in your organization face.
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    With plenty of exercises and opportunities for interaction, the Worktalk trainings move quickly. Subjects that were terrifying in grammar school become fun and interesting in these outstanding programs.
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    In trainings all over the country, Ms. Danziger has enabled participants to streamline their organizing process, eliminate persistent errors, and drastically cut their revision time. Clients spend less time on key communications while producing better relationships and results. Sales people get more positive responses from prospects.
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