Me or myself?

14 May

I find that I and other people wince a bit when we see myself used, as it commonly is, in a seeming attempt to sound more formal, or managerial, or literary, or, well, something. We’ve all seen it – “If you have a problem, please contact myself”. Keep it simple is the rule here: “If you have a problem, please contact me”. There is a place for myself, but it’s a smaller, more precise place than people may imagine.

OK, I’m ranting a bit now; let’s just look at the rules for this one …

Myself is the reflexive first person singular – used by the speaker to refer to themselves as the object of a verb or preposition when he or she is the subject of the clause as well – “I picked myself up from the ground and continued on my way”, “I got myself dressed in time for the video call with my important client”. It’s also used in an emphatic way for I or me, emphasising that something was done personally by the speaker: “I didn’t go to the hairdresser, no: I cut my hair myself”. These, really, are the only times we use myself.

Me is the nice, plain, simple first person singular, used by the speaker to refer to him/herself as the object of a verb where someone else is the subject: “He gave the job to me”; “Please contact me or Linda if you need this work to be done”.

If you’re doing something to yourself, you can use myself. If someone’s doing it to you, you need to use me. “I cleaned myself up after I grazed my knees”/”I cleaned myself”; “Gill cleaned me up after I grazed my knees”/”Gill cleaned me”. Clear now?

Don’t get mixed up with themself/themselves and me/I, while we’re on this topic of how to refer to people …

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


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5 responses to “Me or myself?

  1. lyndseymichaels

    May 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm


    “On behalf of myself [and some other person/the team/the company]” is one that always makes me think “huh?”


    • Liz at Libro

      May 14, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      Ah, yes, that’s a good (or bad!) one, isn’t it. Well, everyone will know how to do it now!


  2. Gill Rose

    May 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    My current hate is:
    Lord Sugar: Who was project manager?
    Apprentice: That would be myself, Lord Sugar.



    • Liz at Libro

      May 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Indeed. I had to try hard not to rant tooooo much on this one!


  3. Coral

    February 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Reblogged this on travellingcoral and commented:
    I asked and Liz provided the answer



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