Me, Myself, and I:  What’s the rule?

Me, Myself, and I:  What’s the rule?

This rule could not be more simple.  People misuse these words because they haven’t learned the rule, but once learned it is simplicity itself.

Is this confusing?

I ate the apple. or Me ate the apple.  Of course not.  We all know that ‘I’ is the one who does the eating of the apple.

How about this:

The mail came to I.  or The mail came to me.  Again- easy peasy.

The trouble happens when others are included.  What if Susie is involved in eating the apple:

Susie and me ate the apple.  Or Susie and I ate the apple.  ???  The answer is take Susie out of the sentence and see what you would say.  You’d say ‘I’ ate the apple.  So just stick Susie in there with you.

The same goes for ‘me’.  What if Susie is getting some mail, too.

The mail came to Susie and I.  or The mail came to Susie and me.

Again, remove Susie for a minute and see what you would do.  Then stick Susie in the sentence.

(Oh, and we always mention the other person first.  Never “I and Susie ate the apple”.)

Using ‘myself’ can be tricky.  It is easier to remember when NOT to use it.  Never this:

He sent the reports to Boopy and myself.  ( He sent them to ME!)

And never this:

Boopy and myself were waiting for the reports.  (I was waiting for them.)

The use of myself is either reflexive or intensive.

Reflexive means what it suggests:  If you look in a mirror, you see a reflection of yourself.  Similarly, in this sentence

“I see myself having a big salad for lunch.”  You are reflecting yourself as the subject – AND as the object- of the sentence.

Intensive means what it says, also.  For example:

I made that pie myself.   We could just say I made that pie. But adding ‘myself’ intensifies the meaning.  Similarly:

If I want it done right I will do it myself.  More intense than just “If I want it done right I will do it.”

If you find ‘myself’ too confusing, just don’t use it.  No harm done. But do NOT stick it in someplace where I and Me belong.

Some of this confusion may come from old school teaching that made us afraid to use the word me, for some reason.  So many of us go to great lengths to avoid saying ‘me’, and we end up sound weird.  Or wrong.

For more information about our courses, please see: http://www.languageatwork.com/courses/ and/or call us at 202-298-7700.

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