I, me, mine: Piercing pronoun predicaments

Why ‘myself’ is not a one-size-fits-all replacement for ‘me’ or ‘I.’

Why ‘myself’ is not a one-size-fits-all replacement for ‘me’ or ‘I’

Recalling the goal of my early education in Language Arts (“English” in the old days), we were trained to write with zero grammar, punctuation, or spelling errors. Sadly, my teachers quickly saw how unrealistic that goal was. It seemed that we would focus so narrowly on our spelling that our punctuation went out the window. When we shifted attention to punctuation, our grammar suffered. The English language is complicated, constantly evolving, and rather confusing to many of us. One area of widespread confusion is in the use of pronouns.

In recent decades our society seems to have become uncomfortable with the word me. I often see myself used in its place, as though that somehow softens the sentence. When did me become so offensive? Here are a couple of examples:

In both cases, the word me would have done quite nicely. Myself is not a one-size-fits-all replacement for me or I. The only time myself should be used is when you’ve said I before it. “I prefer spicy foods myself.”

Another avoidance of the word me is often seen in sentences like these:

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