I is for … Improper use (in this case, me, myself, and I)
I know the title sounds like it doesn’t make sense, but bear with me.
Something’s been bothering me for a while now – ever since I came back from living in the United States. My dear fellow Brits, there’s no easy way to tell you this, so I’m just going to put it out there.
Most of us are using ‘yourself’ and ‘myself’ incorrectly.
There, I said it. Please don’t hate me.
It’s particularly prevalent in contact centres and I’m not sure why they do that, but it drives me up the wall.
I will call my bank and the lovely, friendly person on the other end of the line will say something like:
“Hello Cheryl, what can I do for yourself today?”
And, being polite, because I know how rough it is to be on the receiving end of a rude customer, I will say:
“Hello, lovely friendly person on the other end of the line, I’d like to talk about my account please.”
On the inside, I’m screaming.
I wonder if somewhere along the line they’ve been told that saying ‘you’ and ‘me’ is bad? Or, perhaps someone heard someone else say it and thought it sounded cool and it spread through the contact centres like a plague of norovirus. Or a plague of people using ‘impact’ as a verb (don’t even).
Whatever the reason, I’d like to do a quick tutorial on when to use me, myself, and I.
The easiest way to remember for ‘me’ and ‘I’ is to use I for the subject of a sentence and me for the object.
The subject is the one who performs the action; the object is the one who has the action performed on them. So, for instance:
I walked the dog.
I am the subject because I performed the action to the dog, the object.
She threw the ball to me.
She performed the action, so she is the subject and the action is being done to me, the object.
Myself comes into all this when I (the subject) refer back to myself.
I gave myself a treat for passing the test.
I bought myself a chocolate cake.
When it comes to you and yourself, it’s much the same, except ‘you’ works for both the subject of the sentence and the object.
You ditched me.
In the above sentence, ‘you’ becomes the subject because ‘you’ did something to me, the object.
I gave you a call, after the party.
In the above sentence, ‘you’ becomes the object, because I, the subject, did something to ‘you’.
However, when the sentence tells you to do something on your own behalf, we use ‘yourself’.
Give yourself a break.
Have a word with yourself.
Ask yourself where you want to be in five years.
We do say:
I’d like to introduce myself.
We don’t say:
You can give the information to myself. (we say, you can give the information to me).
We do say:
Make yourself comfortable.
We don’t say:
We’ll get the information over to yourself this afternoon. (we say, we’ll get the informaton over to you this afternoon.)
I hope that helps you tell the difference between me, myself, I. And you and yourself, of course.
Why don’t you give yourself a pat on the back for reading this far!