When Not To Use “Myself”
Myself is a pronoun that can either be reflexive or intensive.
It is used reflexively when both the subject and the object of the verb are the same:
- I gave myself a pedicure.
- Whenever I see myself in a mirror, I cringe.
This is true, by the way, for all reflexive pronouns:
- He gave himself a vacation.
- We congratulated ourselves on our victory.
Myself is used intensively when it emphasizes who is doing the action.
- My lawn looks great, if I say so myself.
- I can do it myself!
Notice that the intensive use of myself is always somewhat redundant. If you eliminate the word, the sentence loses emphasis, but not meaning:
- My lawn looks great, if I say so.
- I can do it.
If you are not using myself as a reflexive or intensive pronoun, you shouldn’t use it. You most likely need me, though it’s possible you mean I. For some reason, people in formal situations are reluctant to use me or I and tend to replace it needlessly with myself.
- You may deliver the package to my secretary or myself.
- Can the family and myself come over later?
In both cases, myself is incorrect. In the first instance, it is the object of the verb deliver. Since the subject is different from the object, you just need me
- You may deliver the package to my secretary or me.
In the second example, myself is the subject of the verb come over. I is all you need here:
- Can the family and I come over later?
As with other pronoun problems, people tend to get confused when the subject or object is compound. With a single subject or object, we would naturally say deliver the package to me or can I come over. No one says deliver the package to myself or can myself come over. If it helps, try mentally removing the compound and replace it with just the pronoun. What works without the compound is also correct with it.
That’s a clear and simple explanation, if I may say so myself.
If yourself has a comment or question for myself, leave it in the comment area below! 🙂