No one wants to sound unintelligent, and there is nothing like a pronoun to make us all feel that way from time to time. Me, myself, and I are perhaps the three trickiest pronouns in the English language. When we are unsure whether I or me is the correct choice in a sentence, we often use myself incorrectly as a replacement. Unfortunately, myself is not a replacement for I or me. Rather, myself is a reflexive pronoun. A reflexive pronoun is used as the object of a sentence, when the subject and object are the same. A reflexive pronoun reflects the subject of a sentence.
What does that mean, you ask? Well, for starters, the subject of a sentence does something, and the object of a sentence has something done to it.
In the sentence Tim loves Sally, Tim is the subject, and Sally is the object.
In the sentence I love myself, I is the subject, and myself is the object.
As far as defining the term reflexive pronoun, http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com provides an excellent explanation: “…myself is what’s called a reflexive pronoun. That can be hard to remember, but just think about looking into a mirror and seeing your reflection. You’d say, “I see myself in the mirror.” You see your reflection, and myself is a reflexive pronoun.”
The word myself must be used in the same sentence as I, and should only be used in two situations:
1. When doing something to yourself
- I helped myself to the chocolate cake.
- I told myself to be careful.
- I view myself as an artist.
2. To emphasize or contrast
- I don’t like asparagus myself, but I know many people who love it.
- Most of my relatives love math, but I myself prefer writing.
Here’s a tip: To determine whether me, myself, or I is the appropriate pronoun to use, remove all other people from a sentence. The answer should then be obvious. For example, let’s consider the sentence Please direct all questions to Susan, Tim, or myself. Right off we know myself isn’t the correct pronoun, because there isn’t an I being reflected in this sentence. We’re left with Please direct all questions to I,or Please direct all questions to me. The latter makes sense, so this sentence should be written Please direct all questions to Susan, Tim, or me.