Me, myself, and I. You may be tempted to use these words interchangeably, because they all refer to the same thing. But in fact, each one has a specific role in a sentence: ‘I’ is a subject pronoun, ‘me’ is an object pronoun, and ‘myself’ is a reflexive or intensive pronoun.
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Emma Bryce explains what each role reveals about where each word belongs.
You may be tempted to use these words interchangeably because they all refer to the same thing but, in fact, each one has a specific role in a sentence.
‘I’ is a subject pronoun,
‘Me’ is an object pronoun, and
‘Myself’ is a reflexive or intensive pronoun.
So what does that reveal about where each word belongs?
The difference between subject and object
Imagine the subject as the actor in a sentence and the object as the word that is acted upon.
i.e. I invited her but she invited me.
The object can also be the object of a presposition.
i.e. She danced around me, while he shimmied up to me.
In some languages, like Latin and Russian, most nouns have different forms that distinguish subjects from objects. However, in English that’s only true of pronouns. But so long as you know how to distinguish subjects from objects, you can figure out what belongs where. And when you encounter a more complicated sentence, say one that involves multiple subjects or objects, and you’re not sure whether to use ‘I’ or ‘me’ just temporarily eliminate the other person, and once again distinguish subject from object.
Here’s another. You wouldn’t say, ‘Me heard gossip,’ but sub in ‘I’ and you’re good to go. Then what about ‘myself’? This grand character is often substituted for ‘me’ and ‘I’ because it seems more impressive. ‘Please tell Jack or myself’ may sound elegant, but in fact, ‘me’ is the right pronoun here.
So where should you use ‘myself’?
In its function as a reflexive pronoun, ‘myself’ only works if it’s the object of a sentence whose subject is ‘I’
i.e. I consider myself the most important pronoun at this year’s party.
‘Myself’ can also add emphasis as an intensive pronoun. ‘I, myself, have heard others agree.’ The sentence works without it, but that extra pronoun gives it oomph. To check if ‘myself’ belongs in a sentence simply ensure that there’s also an ‘I’ that it’s reflecting or intensifying. So that’s ‘me’, ‘myself’, and ‘I’ ever to represent you, yourself, and you.
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