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Myself and Other
by Elaine Ernst Schneider
January 31, 2001 rev. May 2003
"I myself have done that."
"Jim, Susie, and myself were planning a trip."
"He wasn't even sure hisself how to go about it."
"You need to give that to myself when you are done."
"They decided just to do that theirselves."
Which ones are correct? Which ones are unacceptable? Why?
The words "myself," "himself," "herself," "ourselves," and "themselves" are reflexive pronouns. Reflexive use is not often addressed in grammar books. We find present, past, future, and perfect tenses. And we find the various cases of pronouns. Both of those are enough to keep the average person confused! Then the "myself" word rears its ugly head and there are few books that offer rules for its use. Let me offer some guidelines.
First, there are no such words as "hisself" or "theirselves." The correct reflexive forms for "him" and "them" use the objective case and become "himself" and "themselves." A good way to remember this is that the word "remember" has "m's" in it. "Himself" and "themselves" both have "m's." Another memory tool is to substitute "him" or "them" in the following sentence: "Give it to HIM." You would not say "Give it to HIS." That is because "him" and "them" are objective case and "his" and "their" are possessives.
Second, reflexive use reinforces the subject. That means
Consider the sentence "Paula, Tim, and myself went to
It IS correct, however, to use reflexive pronouns in objective case instances such as indirect object or direct object.
Here are examples:
I hurt myself. ("I" is subject. "Hurt" is the verb." "Myself" is the direct object.)
I gave myself a manicure. ("I" is subject. "Gave" is the verb.
Lastly, the words "myself," "himself," "herself," "ourselves," and "themselves" can also be used as objects of prepositions. Examples are "She did that by herself" or "He did that to himself." It can, however, become confusing when the preposition is "understood." In the sentence, "She did that herself," it is understood that a preposition precedes "herself." With the elliptical preposition in place, the sentence might read "She did that BY herself." Note that these instances are with objects of prepositions that are used in adverbial phrases. The phrases answer the question "how." Adverbs can also answer the questions "when," "where," and "why." Reflexive pronouns are normally not used in sentences where the adverbial phrase answers any other question than "how." For instance, it is not considered standard grammar to say "He gave it to myself. " Correct usage would be "He gave it to me."
Here are some practice exercises. Write C by the sentences that are correct. Rewrite the sentences that have errors.
1. Sam, Tim,
are headed camping now.
1. Sam, Tim,
and I are
headed camping now.
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