When to Use "I, Me, or Myself"?
Updated: Oct 19
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 pronouns 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. Proofreaders and content creators bear the responsibility of knowing how to correctly and effectively use these pronouns.
When to use “I”
“I” is a nominative (naming) pronoun that is used as the subject of a sentence.
Example: •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: •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, reflexively, or to show that you completed an action for yourself.
Examples: • 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 phrase: • I worked on the budget.
• Mark is attending the meeting with Dawn and myself.
Correction: • Mark is attending the meeting with Dawn and me.
Substitution phrase: • Mark is attending the meeting with me.
Excerpt from the book Grammar Essentials for Proofreading, Copyediting & Business Writing in Chapter 8: Common Usage Errors.
Ashan R. Hampton is a long-time English instructor turned entrepreneur. Through her company, Onyx Online Education & Training, she offers digital courses and print books on grammar, proofreading, business writing and communication for personal and professional development to individuals and corporations. To find out more about Ashan's work, visit www.arhampton.com.
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