Pronoun usage

In Defense of “Me”

dreamstime_7591762There’s probably some psychological term for it in some obscure medical journal somewhere.  I’m talking about the abhorrence of the word me. I feel sorry for me.  It’s a perfectly fine word, but somehow it’s become a pariah to be avoided at all costs for fear of sounding…I don’t know…unlearned maybe.

To avoid me, many people use myself instead. Here’s an example of a recent email I saw.

“If you have questions, please contact customer service or myself.”

I’m sure the writer thought myself sounded smarter than the sad, little pronoun me.  However, me is the correct usage there and myself is well…wrong.

The basic rule for using myself can be summed up in one word – don’t.  I say don’t use it because 95 percent of the time, we get it wrong.  OK, so I made that statistic up, but I’m sure if I actually did a content analysis, 95 percent would be a low estimate.

If you want to use myself, here’s how.  Myself is a reflective pronoun, as in “I see myself in them mirror.” A reflective pronoun is the object so it can never be the subject. In other words, the subject of the sentence is the one doing something, and the object is the one having something done to it.  If you don’t want to dissect your sentences, generally, when you use the word myself the word I will also be in the sentence.  For example:

  • I’m going to treat myself to a spa day.
  • I see myself going to Hawaii one day.
  • I did the shopping by myself.

Myself can also be used to add emphasis to a sentence.  You might say, “I myself saw the bridge collapse.”

Now let’s take a look at the much maligned meMe is an object pronoun, which means it refers to the person the action of the verb is being done to or it is the person to whom a preposition refers.  Because of that, me isn’t likely to be at the beginning sentence, but that’s not a hard and fast rule.  Here are some examples:

  • They warned me it was time to go.
  • Please call customer service or me with any questions.
  • The committee wants to hear from you and me tomorrow.

Will you join me in my campaign to elevate the status of me, and return it to its rightful place? I can’t do it by myself.  I will take you and me.

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