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Grammar Mishaps: myself vs me

Updated on May 15, 2012

When do you use "myself" and when do you use "me"?

The craziest rule of all, to my ear, is the rule that governs the use of "myself" and "me". Which of these *sounds* correct to you?

1. The Captain handed the medals to my partner and myself.

2. The Captain handed the medals to my partner and I.

3. The Captain handed the medals to my partner and me.

The correct version, of course, is the 3rd. The word "me" is a always a direct or indirect object (never a subject) and "I" is *always* a subject--that much doesn't sound too far-fetched, and it rules out the 2nd example.

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"Myself" is a special object (direct or indirect), to be used only when the subject is you (note I didn't write "...when the subject is yourself"). I can give a gift to *myself* since I am the one doing the giving. The Captain can never "give a gift to myself" since the subject is the Captain.

Part of the confusion comes from the two-part indirect object in the examples above ("my partner and me") but the same grammar rules apply whether or not the object is compounded.

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      Kathy 10 years ago

      Thanks, Chris. I think the overuse of "I" is overcorrection, and "myself", for some reason, sounds more professional (even though it's completely wrong).

      A good rule to follow is to take out the "other party" and see which sounds right: "handed the medals to me", "handed the medals to I" or "handed the medals to myself". People will rarely make a mistake in this instance.

    • Chris Hibbard profile image
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      Chris Hibbard 9 years ago

      That's exactly right, Kathy.  Many people will read "...handed the medals to my partner and me" and think it doesn't sound "booky" enough.  No one makes this mistake when there isn't another party involved ("gave the medal to me" *sounds* right); it's something about two parties that causes people think they must use "and I" or "and myself".

    • profile image

      Matthew 9 years ago

      The use of myself in this case is probably a softener. It seems polite or erudite not to refer to yourself directly. Thank you for the tip

    • profile image

      Cy 9 years ago

      This isn't directly related to the topic of the article, but isn't the two-part object prepositional rather than indirect? Wouldn't it be indirect only if you said, "The Captain handed my partner and me the medals?"

      Oh, and what do you do if a question ends with a quotation that ends in a period (as in the above sentence)? Should it end with the period that ended the quotation followed by an additional question mark, or should it be as above?

    • profile image

      Meliss 8 years ago

      IMHO, the word "myself" has become almost as annoying as using the word "utilize" when USE should be ...well, used instead. I think people think if the word is longer then it is somehow makes you sound more professional or educated.

    • profile image

      Erwin 8 years ago

      Of course, the use of subjective pronouns after a 'to be' verb does not make this rule any easier. For example: It is I who will win. (Correct -- Sujbect is It.)

    • profile image

      Clintox 8 years ago

      Thank you. I have been using it correctly, but now I know the actual rule.

    • profile image

      Chris Johnstone 8 years ago

      Many use "myself" because they don't know whether to use "me" or "I".

    • profile image

      Linda Em 7 years ago

      Is the use of myself when you mean "me" a regional thing. I notice people in Florida referring to myself when they should say "me".

    • profile image

      jean 7 years ago

      I recall that rule from 7th grade of taking out the other person and listening to what sounds best. So how do I kindly tell my young, inexperienced manager that she sounds ridiculous using "myself" all the time?

      Or shall I just allow her to keep looking like what she is?

    • Chris Hibbard profile image
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      Chris Hibbard 7 years ago

      Jean, as long as your boss determines your pay, she's always right--in the workplace anyway ;)

    • Chris Hibbard profile image
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      Chris Hibbard 7 years ago

      Linda Em, it's a common 'southernism' to include 'myself' where it should be completely ommitted, or moved to the correct location as an indirect object. Ex: 'I bought myself a car this weekend." Taken literally, this would mean the speaker purchased himself.

    • Chris Hibbard profile image
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      Chris Hibbard 7 years ago

      Cy, they are together the indirect object, if that is what you mean. The Captain is the subject, the medal is the object (he is giving) and the recipient (in this sentence) is the indirect object.

    • Chris Hibbard profile image
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      Chris Hibbard 7 years ago

      Meliss, I'd have to agree. Trying to position yourself as smarter than you are rarely works, unless you happen to be the smartest person in the room, which begs the question, 'what's the point?'

    • Chris Hibbard profile image
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      Chris Hibbard 7 years ago

      Cy, Punctuation in dialogue is tricky (a whole other hubpage:) but in general, end-of-sentence punctionations only happen once, and tend to get sucked into quotation marks. I wonder, "does that make sense?"

    • profile image

      Janet Kyle 7 years ago

      Hi Chris

      Thanks so much for this article! I certainly don't know all the rules, nor do I abide by them all. However, when this one is broken, I can almost hear fingernails on a chalkboard! Thanks for the tips.

    • profile image

      suschwartz 7 years ago

      Which is correct?

      I believe in the power of you and I.

      or

      I believe in the power of you and me.

    • profile image

      stumpy 7 years ago

      The power of you and me is correct. You would never say the power of I. Therefore, it can't be the power of you and I.

    • profile image

      7 years ago

      I am so glad I'm not the only who cringes when I hear this song... or when people say "you can contact myself if you have any questions". I'm in no way shape or form a grammar expert, teacher or writer... but it still irritates me when smart people make stupid mistakes LOL!

    • profile image

      7 years ago

      I hear this one all the time: "If you have any questions, you can send an email to myself at imanidiot@gmail.com."

    • profile image

      Carol Worthington-Levy 6 years ago

      Thank goodness you addressed this - my ears ache every time I hear 'myself' used incorrectly - and it's everywhere! The TV news media is the bastion of the worst offenders of all - what a bunch of morons! You'd think they'd respect the public enough to at least acknowledge proper grammar. Perhaps they think that Americans will like them better if they sound 'dumbed down'?? ... uggggggghhhh!!

    • profile image

      deborah nixon 6 years ago

      Myself is like nails on a wall to me- when used incorrectly. I have no idea why people think this sounds correct. It tells me that the person doing the speaking is ignorant in the rules of grammar. In the case of media, sometimes it's the blind leading the blind. Grammatical errors are everywhere it seems- and editors either don't care or don't know either. Sad state of affairs.

      I was taught in grade school, as Kathy was, to take the other person out and then see how it sounds. ie handed the medals to me.

    • profile image

      Mardi Brock 6 years ago

      I absolutely agree with Deborah. It is like nails on a wall, and sad when well educated folks don't take the time to learn the rules of grammar.

      I learned a little tip when I was very young. "I" is generally used at the beginning of a sentence and "me" at the end.....just in case you can't remember the subject and direct object rules.

      Also, it's a very rare occasion when the word "myself" is appropriate to use.

      This is a great exchange. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Laura 6 years ago

      Is there a correct order to use in the following sentence? "She gave flowers to me and Chris." Or, "she gave flowers to Chris and me." I know "me" is correct, I'm wondering more about whether there are rules as to what order it's used.

    • profile image

      anub 6 years ago

      @ suschwartz and stumpy:

      It isn't "I believe in the power of you and myself"?

    • profile image

      Ally 6 years ago

      Hi There,

      I am looking everywhere for an answer for this...

      I keep seeing posts on the internet where someone says

      "Photo of Ryan and I"

      To me, I feel that the "I" at the end of the satement is incorrect.. Personally, I would say "Photo of Ryan and me" could you enlighten me as to which is correct?

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      joyyaxz 6 years ago

      what about--- I'm emotional about me myself

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      Nick 6 years ago

      Ally, the rule I was always told was that if you remove the second person from the sentence, would it still make sense, so, does 'Photo of I' make sense? No. Therefore, it should read 'Photo of Ryan and me'.

    • profile image

      KLM 6 years ago

      Thanks. The misuse of "myself" has been driving me bonkers. Other bonkers inducements: using apostrophes incorrectly, putting quotation marks on everything.

    • Chris Hibbard profile image
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      Chris Hibbard 6 years ago

      @Anub: You can believe in yourself ("I believe in myself" is correct), but you can't believe "in the power of yourself" (incorrect). Once you stick "power" in the sentence, you are no longer the target the word "believe". Believe operates on the word "power", and "of me" is a prepositional phrase.

    • profile image

      MCS 6 years ago

      I am so glad I found this - talking about nails on a chalkboard... This is my pet peeve. However, I believe that the widespread misuse of me, myself, and I is due to plain laziness. People hear it used incorrectly and rather than conducting some research, they simply accept what they hear on TV, etc. and assume they are wrong. What galls me is that many of the people who misuse myself and I are supposedly college educated. And here I am, a mere foreigner.

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      Lilly 6 years ago

      Which is correct?

      This letter is to confirm the meeting between you, Jim Black and (me or myself?)

      Would love your help. Thanks

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      scott 6 years ago

      Which is correct usage, if I am the one making the statement(s) below?

      The team includes John and me.

      The team includes John and myself.

    • profile image

      kc 6 years ago

      I was looking for info on farther vs further, and found this site. The myself/me distinction is easier to master. "Myself" is a reflexive pronoun...it always reflects back to the subject. So don't use myself unless you have "I" as your subject. No "I", no "myself".

      "I blame myself for the accident." "I wrote myself a note."

      The only other accepted usage is for emphasis, but this still requires the subject "I". ex: "I made it myself!"

    • profile image

      Carie 5 years ago

      How about this one? There are four people in my family; mom, two sisters and myself or me or I? Is there only one correct grammar in this sentence?

    • profile image

      JD 5 years ago

      and me

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      victoria 5 years ago from Hamilton On.

      Thank you for this interesting hub.

      Just goes to show that we have been careless with the English language long before the young began chopping away at it.

    • profile image

      kim 5 years ago

      Is this sentence correct?

      There is no way she would have gone home with somebody else other than me, my uncle, and maybe even Carlos.

    • profile image

      ygerne 4 years ago

      Is it better to say :"I have no time for myself or to myself ?" Would be kind enough so as to answer my question, please ?

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      Not Telling 4 years ago

      I believe that grammar is great. I am ten years old and believe that children's grammar is a lot better because they think about it more than adults. I mean, my Cubs leader says phrases such as: 'He hasn't done nothing wrong.' I hate her grammar and I often have to correct her.

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      Maizee 4 years ago

      Carrie, I strongly believe it should be "I" because it is not an object form. If anything your verb "are" makes it a predicate pronoun similar to the sentence, "This is she." There's no reason it would be "myself" because it is not reflexive, and using "me" would indicate that it was a direct or indirect object.

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      Maizee 4 years ago

      Does anyone hear the absence of reflexive pronouns, as in the sentence, "I'm going to get me a sandwich," or "He's got him a nice car"? This is common in some regions and is perhaps a "folksy" way of speaking with familiarity. However, in attempting to google this concept, I had no luck at all. It's clearly incorrect because the reflexive form is called for. I tried "incorrect use of indirect object" and "incorrect use of reflexive pronouns" among other things. I got a lot of Spanish grammar sites.

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      Emmy 4 years ago

      I ran across a children's book titled , Great Grandma and I. Is this correct

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