I, Me, and Myself
I, Me, and Myself
I share this, not because it bothers me, really, but because it bothers some people and I want to prevent some of my friends from being on the receiving end of haughty judgment. I know and accept that there are certain ways that people speak that reflect cultural and social norms that may not necessarily be technically “correct” but that are, nonetheless, valid ways of communicating. Even though I write for a living, I am not a “grammar snob”; such people bother me more than people who make innocent and common mistakes. Sometimes, I even make grammatical errors on purpose as a way to communicate a certain mood or make a point easier to accept. So, feel free to take this or leave this as a quick way to know when you are using, “I,” “me,” and, “myself,”* properly:
I do something, just like he does something or they do something. Somebody does not do something to “I.” Doesn’t that sound weird when you say it out loud?
The most common way people screw this up is when something has happened to me. It’s easy to remember me in this instance, but when it’s me and somebody else (collectively, us) to whom something has happened, it gets tricky. A lot of folks who know to say something has happened to me will also say that something has happened to, “Mary and I.” Drop the “Mary” and think about it. Would you say something happened to “I?” Nope. Just like something happens to me, something also happens to Mary and me (to us).
I, and only I can only do something to myself. Technically, I can do something to me but it may imply that I suffer from a split personality disorder; nobody else can ever do something to myself. Mary can’t give something to myself. Myself can’t do something. Say these phrases out loud and notice how those both sound weird?
So, in summary:
I do Mary. Sometimes, Richard and I do Mary. We do her.
Mary does me. Sometimes, Mary also does Richard and me. She does us.
Mostly, I just do myself.
Hope that helps.
*I still, even after all these years, rely on editors to help me straighten out quotation marks and commas.