Nobody thinks much about me anymore.
Let me rephrase that: Nobody thinks much about “me” anymore. Maybe “me” just isn’t long enough, fancy enough, trendy enough–but at some juncture, “myself” became sexier than “me,” even though “me” is correct far more often than “myself.”
But when did being right ever take precedence over being popular? Exactly never, that’s when.
So “me” has been dumped in favor of “myself,” and not just by uneducated bumpkins or by those who never paid attention in an English or communications class.
Forgive the English major in me (Note: “myself” would NOT be the correct word in the preceding phrase!) jumping straight out of my skin, but “myself” has become the go-to pronoun these days, rather than waiting for the relatively few times it should be used in its true, reflexive form.
Maybe this problem evolved because there wasn’t a “Me, Myself and I” number on the Schoolhouse Rock! shows back in the ’70s (who can forget “Conjunction, Junction?”), but slowly, over time, “myself” has gradually been taking over “me” until “me” is hardly ever used.
Here’s the dirty secret, folks: “Me” and “I” are pronouns you should be using much more frequently, while “myself” should be reserved, and sprinkled into speech or script, on rarer occasions. Honestly, if you’re uncertain about which pronoun to use, you’re better off guessing “me” or “I” about 90 percent of the time rather than choosing “myself.”
Using “myself” doesn’t make you sound smarter or fancier; it makes you sound WRONG.
For instance: “Tom and myself looked over the annual report and found it adequately reflected the progress our company has made in the past fiscal year.”
No, no, no! “Tom and I looked over the annual report!” I silently scream as I have heard everyone from CEOs, principals, doctors, presidents, ministers, scientists, conductors, stylists and custodians utter or write phrases similar to the above on countless occasions.
“The staff and myself found Susie to be best suited to the position.”
Not on your life!
But this: “I wrote the letter myself.”
Yes, indeed. That’ll do. That’s the reflexive “myself” in its role of lending extra emphasis to the noun already mentioned in the sentence or clause.
“Myself” is a pronoun that must receive an action or refer to a previous noun or pronoun; contrary to its common usage of late, it’s too weak to stand on its own two feet.
So a person should never say, “Myself and the gang are going to the amusement park,” because NOTHING CAME BEFORE “myself!”
“Myself,” get over yourself. You’re not too good for us, but you’re suffering from overexposure. You need to be sprinkled (sparingly) and not poured into the soup pot of our language, and you definitely need to quit hogging the pronoun front.
If all this grammar mumbo-jumbo has you shaking your head, muttering to yourself (yes, sir), “I’ll just keep talking and writing however myself pleases,” hold on a second–maybe considering some common quotes or song lyrics will help clarify this matter more simply.
Did Joshua say, “As for myself and my house, we will serve the Lord?”
Ah, no–that would be, “me,” and I’m confident you all knew that. Get thee behind me, “myself.”
Composer Neil Diamond and The Monkees wouldn’t have made it too far with “It’s a Little Bit Myself, A Little Bit You,” but by using the proper pronoun (“me,” of course), they took it ALL THE WAY to #2 on the Billboard charts in 1967.
Or how about that cliched breakup line, “It’s not you, it’s me?” C’mon, if you haven’t heard or uttered that at least once in your life…well, I just don’t believe you. But no one will ever tell you, “It’s not you, it’s myself” (at least not after reading this column!).
Finally, consider that 1985 #1 hit from the band Simple Minds, forever associated with John Hughes’ movie “The Breakfast Club,” with its pointed directive built into the title: “Don’t You Forget About Me.”
Go ahead, sub in the inappropriate “myself” and you see the issue with which I’m struggling.
My advice: Don’t YOU forget about “me.”