Those of us on the awesome editorial team at Hammock love words. We also enjoy the little rules that make words work. We’re always being called names like “grammar police” and “grammar queen.”
It hurts coming from your own mother sometimes…
We’re always reading and listening to the ways people use words. Listen carefully and you’ll notice it too. For some reason lately, and more often it seems, people are using reflexive pronouns incorrectly.
“If you need more information, please call myself or Megan.”
Well, you can’t call myself, only I can call myself. It’s just that simple.
Even presidential candidates are using the words incorrectly as the Wall Street Journal pointed out just last week in an article titled Me, Myself and I.
So, here’s a quick reminder list of reflexive pronouns: myself, yourself (singular), yourselves (plural), himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves.
A reflexive pronoun is used for three primary reasons:
- When the object of the sentence is the same as the subject (1)
- As the object of a preposition, referring back to the subject (2)
- To emphasize the subject (3)
(1) Example: Laura cut herself while slicing onions for dinner. (Laura is the subject and the what/who that was cut.)
(2) Example: I took this picture by myself.
(3) Example: The boss himself set our deadline. (A reflexive pronoun used this way is also called an “intensive pronoun.”)
Simply put in my Basic English Revisited handbook: A personal pronoun is called a “reflexive pronoun” when it reflects back on the subject or refers to it.
I, myself, already knew that.