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Write the Right Word: Me, Myself and I

Despite the way it’s often used, “myself” is not a substitute for “me” or “I.”

You’ve probably seen a sentence such as this: “Please contact John Smith, Mary Doe or myself for more information about the workshop.” The “myself” is incorrect because it is a reflexive pronoun that should be used when you are the object of your own action; that is, when you are doing something to you. “Me” is the correct word.

An easy way to remember which is right is to delete the other people in the sentence. You would not say, “Please contact myself.” You would say, “Please contact me for more information about the workshop.” So the sentence should be: “Please contact John Smith, Mary Doe or me for more information about the workshop.”

A reflexive pronoun always is the object of a sentence; it never can be the subject. A subject is the one doing something in a sentence; the object is the one having something done. So if I pet the dog, I am the subject and the dog is the object. You wouldn’t say, “Myself petted the dog,” so don’t say, “Fred and myself petted the dog.” The sentence should read, “Fred and I petted the dog.”

Whether to use “me” or “I” also seems to confuse writers. A good way to determine which to use is to take out the other people in the sentence. In the sentence, “Jim asked Tim and me to go fishing,” “me” is correct because you wouldn’t say, “Jim asked I to go fishing.” On the other hand, “Tina and I went to the mall” is correct because you wouldn’t say, “Me went to the mall.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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