When do you use “I” and when do you use “myself” in a sentence? Can you tell which of the following sentences using “myself” are grammatically correct?
I found myself unable to get the teacher’s attention
The teacher asked Ben and myself to collaborate on the project
I myself saw Kathy steal Mario’s lunchbox.
The second sentence is wrong. The best way to figure out whether a sentence calls for “I”, “me” or “myself” is to see whether the sentence works with just the first-person subject case.
“Mary and myself went to see The Lion King last Friday.”
“Myself went to see The Lion King last Friday.”
It doesn’t sound right in that second sentence, does it?
The correct sentence should read as follows: “Mary and I went to see The Lion King last Friday.”
“Just between you and myself, do you think Peter deserved that award?”
Here the correct sentence should say,
“Just between you and me, do you think Peter deserved that award?”.
“Me” is an object pronoun, part of the phrase “between X and Y” and so not a subject. However, in the first example, the phrase “Mary and I” stands in for the single subject in the sentence. If you’re confused, you can test out whether you’re dealing with a subject by replacing the word with “me” instead. The sentence “Me went to see The Lion King last Friday” doesn’t make sense either, as you’ll quickly see.
Myself is a reflexive pronoun
Let’s see one more example,
“Tired of waiting for Ben to do it, I did the laundry myself.”
In this sentence you cannot apply the tip above. This sentence in as example of the reflexive noun usage. We use this when the action described in a sentence is directed back to you. This is so because myself is a reflexive pronoun; it reflects the action back to the subject (myself, yourself, himself).
Myself for added emphasis
Let’s see a third example, with the sentence “I myself saw Kathy steal Mario’s lunchbox.”
The word “myself” is grammatically redundant here, but it does serve a purpose: it emphasizes that the act of robbery was happening in front of my own two eyes. You can omit it and still have a grammatically correct sentence, or you can include it for emphasis.
To sum up, whenever you’re in doubt, use the this trick of stripping the sentence off of all other subjects and just keep the first person subject. If it still makes sense, you’ve got it right.
The most common misuse of “myself” and “me” is when there are other subjects in the sentence, as in the case of sentences like this:
“John, Natalie, and myself went for a picnic.”
You’d never say “Myself went for a picnic” or “Me went for a picnic” – you’d naturally say “I went for a picnic.” Use the single-subject test, and you’ll have the singular right answer.