Have you noticed how some people avoid using the word “me”? I guess they were told in childhood that it is impolite to refer to oneself in the first person objective case. As in “gimme, gimme, never gets”? As an example, I was recently offered “Here is a photo of Mary and I.” (Names changed to protect the guilty.) I doubt that this person would ever say, “Here is a photo of I.” Or, if self-effacement is the name of the game, perhaps they would never allow a solo picture to be taken. But then if such a photo were taken, they would have said, “Here is a photo of myself,” as though “self” is somehow a separate, ever-so-genteel, entity from “me.” However: “I took this photo of myself, but Mary took this one of me.”

Here are few more examples of the self in action: “That article was written by myself” or “Mary and myself had our pictures taken.” (Correctly:” That article was written by me.” “Mary and I had our pictures taken.”) There are many perfectly useful applications of “myself”, for example: “I’m going to get myself a new suit” or “I’ve planned this party just for myself.” “I’m going to sit right down and write myself a letter.” You can see that “myself”—a reflexive pronoun—can be an intensifier or a way of putting yourself at a slight distance. However, this is neither appropriate nor sensible when simply referring to an action done to or performed by “me.” To set the record straight, the reflexive pronoun (myself, herself, himself, itself, oneself, yourselves, themselves, etc.) refers back to the person already named in the sentence. For example, “Mary cut herself.” or “I photographed myself.” Therefore, the reflexive pronoun cannot stand by itself as a subject or object of a verb or preposition.

It helps to remember that English is best spoken (or written) directly and simply. Just use plain old Anglo-Saxon grammar. I think I’ve already railed against the use of “at this point in time” instead of “now.”

There are a few grammatical aberrations that have become acceptable: The use of “they” to refer to a single person (see above). It has also become acceptable to reply to the question, “Who is it?” with “It’s me,” using the objective form of the pronoun rather than the more stilted sounding, but correct, “It’s I.”

Then there is “Please give that letter to him and I.” Have you also heard, “Him and me are going steady. “

Enough said!


About tdurrie

An aging radical with thoughts about society, education, arts, politics, and food.
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One Response to ME, MYSELF, AND I

  1. darrenbond says:

    I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter.

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