• Ashan R. Hampton

When to Use the Pronouns "I, Me, or Myself"?

Updated: Feb 26


When to Use I, Me, or Myself in English grammar

Many people get confused on how to use personal pronouns to refer to themselves as an individual or as part of a group. As a result, otherwise smart professionals trip over these words in written and verbal communication by using “myself” as a cover for their uncertainty.

However, there are times when inserting the personal pronouns “I” or “me” in sentences is correct, even if it sounds odd to do so. Remember, correct grammar and usage are not determined by the way words sound in certain combinations. You cannot always write the way you speak, because spoken language is wildly inaccurate.


Likewise, the way you write a phrase might be grammatically correct, but too formal for casual conversation. Hopefully, the following writing tips will help you feel more confident about how to accurately express yourself in business or academic situations.


When to use “I”


“I” is a nominative (naming) pronoun that is used as the subject of a sentence.

Example of the Pronoun "I":

  • I suggest we schedule the presentation for next Tuesday.

 

When to use “Me”


Use “Me” as the object of a verb or the object of a preposition.

Examples of the Pronoun "Me":

  • The report was distributed to Lauren and me.

Substitution Test:

  • The report was distributed to me.

  • In the above example, you would not state, “The report was distributed to I. Therefore, “me” is correct in this sentence.

 

Between You and Me


“Between you and me” is a type of idiomatic phrase that is stated the same way every time it is communicated, without variations. However, the reason “I” is incorrect in this phrase—(i.e., “between you and I”)—is because objective case pronouns (“me”) are used as objects of prepositions (“between”), not subjects (“I”).

 

When to use “Myself”


As a general rule of thumb, avoid writing “myself.” Only use “myself” for emphasis, or reflexively to show that you completed an action for yourself.

Examples of the Pronoun "Myself":

  • I signed up for the conference myself.

  • I, myself, used that wrinkle cream and it worked.

 

Common Mistakes Using “Myself”


Example #1:

  • Debra and myself worked on the budget.

Correction:

  • Debra and I worked on the budget.

Substitution phrases:

  • Debra worked on the budget.

  • I worked on the budget.

  • NOT: Myself worked on the budget.

Example #2:

  • Mark is attending the meeting with Dawn and myself.

Correction:

  • Mark is attending the meeting with Dawn and me.

Substitution phrases:

  • Mark is attending the meeting with Dawn.

  • Mark is attending the meeting with me.

  • NOT: Mark is attending the meeting with myself.

  • NOT: Mark is attending the meeting with I.

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Excerpt from the book Grammar Essentials for Proofreading, Copyediting & Business Writing, Chapter 8: Common Usage Errors.


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Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. She is also a proud graduate of the Donaghey Scholars Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock under the direction of Dr. C. Earl Ramsey, Emeritus. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers online writing courses and print books for academic and professional development to individuals and corporations. She is also a prolific published author of several books on a variety of topics. To find out more about Ashan's work, visit www.arhampton.com.

 

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