I’m keeping my promise to a dear friend of mine by writing this blog post.
There’s a grammatical error bug going around her office—and it’s contagious. Her career is decades-strong across all forms of communications, but she’s never seen or heard such a grammatical error being used on the daily until she joined her latest team. It’s infected her peers’ verbal speech and email composition.
That’s right: They all have the case of the myself.
Here’s how it usually goes down. They write or speak a sentence like this:
“Jan, Greg and myself went to the conference.”
“My supervisor scheduled a meeting for Chris and myself on Thursday.”
Some of you are cringing. And some of you don’t see the issue.
This blog post is for you.
How NOT To Use Myself In A Sentence
The simplest way to decide if you should use myself in a sentence is by leaving it alone in the sentence.
For example, would you say, “Myself went to the conference” or “My supervisor scheduled a meeting for myself on Thursday”?
Of course not.
You would say “I went to the conference” and “My supervisor scheduled a meeting for me on Thursday.”
Here’s an easy way to remember the difference between these first-person pronouns:
I = Subject Pronoun
Me = Object Pronoun
Myself = Reflexive Pronoun
It’s the role of “myself” as a reflexive pronoun that can often be confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. Keep reading.
Myself: The Reflexive Pronoun
A reflexive pronoun is a special kind of pronoun. It’s used in a sentence when the object of the sentence is the same as the subject.
If you are both the subject and object of a first-person sentence, then the object of your sentence can be “myself.” That’s because the person performing the action in the sentence (“I”) is the same person who is receiving the action of the sentence (“myself”).
In other words, if “I” is the subject of the sentence and the object of the sentence still refers to you, then “myself” can be the object.
Some examples include:
“I scheduled a meeting for myself on Thursday.”
“I see myself going to that conference.”
The misuse of myself is finally solved, if I do say so myself.
Don’t think so? Still have questions about how to use myself in a sentence? Ask your grammar question below.
Unless you truly know this someone and want to delve into your deepest angst, you reply, “I’m good. And you?”
This someone clears their throat, sticks their nose high in the air, and says, “I’m well.”
You know what I’m talking about it. Too much emphasis is put on “well.” And it’s said as if a teacher were lecturing a straight-A student.
If correcting this someone is not in my best interest, then I bite my tongue and let this someone revel in this false superiority. If I have nothing to lose, I tell this someone what I’m about to tell you.
It’s “I’m good,” not “I’m well.”
We’ve been taught by social pressure that it’s more proper in the English language to use “well” than “good.”
However, saying “well” in this case is improper English. Let me explain.
Good is an adjective, meaning that it modifies nouns.
This is a good story.
You speak good English.
What a good idea!
Good can also be used with state of being verbs, such as to be, to appear, and to seem. Here, the adjective still modifies the noun, not the verb.
This story is good.
His English is good.
Her ideas are good.
So, saying “I’m good” or “I am good” is correct because “am” is a to be verb. “Good” modifies “I.” I bolded these sentences in case you’re skimming this blog post to find the answer.
Well is an adverb, not an adjective. That means well modifies verbs, adjectives and other adverbs.
The protagonist swam well in the story.
He speaks English well.
Her idea solved our problem well.
Well can also be used as an adjective, meaning “in good health.”
She looks well.
He doesn’t feel well.
You only say “I’m well” when referring to your good health. If you want to convey that you’re happy or content, you say, “I’m good.”
Chances are, those annoying “well” correctors were not implying that they were in tip-top shape.
Are you wondering what this has to do with writing?
Writers are assumed to be experts in any and every subject because they can write about it. Whether or not that’s true, it’s the misconception that we writers often make true by trying to be the expert.
Because we are these writing experts, it is implied that we are also genius grammarians. This, of course, isn’t true. I’ve met many writers who couldn’t tell you the difference between adjectives and adverbs but can still apply both flawlessly in their writing.
The situation of “I’m good” vs. “I’m well” probably happens more to us than most professions. It’s like correcting a mathematician on the rules of the multiplication sign (unless, of course, you are the writing expert on math). These challengers cannot resist lecturing a genius grammarian on a simple grammatical principle.
Except that it’s not so simple. And they’re wrong.
So the next time someone asks you how you are, look this person straight in the eye and say, “I’m good.” And be ready to say why.
Has this also happened to you? Share your good vs. well story below.
I’m all for word inventing. I tend to verbify nouns and smash two words together so that I get my point across better.
But I draw the line at speaking nonsense.
Some words are so common that we assume that they’re words. But they’re not.
I break down these fake words by their true definitions to prove that you need to obliterate these words immediately from your vocabulary.
The prefix ir-, like un- and in-, makes a word negative. Regardless means showing no regard. Put the two together and irregardless means not showing no regard.
And that doesn’t make any sense.
Irregardless arose from a bad meshing of regardless and irrespective. Stick to using one of these words instead.
The prefix re- adds “again” to a word’s meaning. Iterate means to speak again or repeatedly. So reiterate means to again speak again or repeatedly. The word itself is repetitive.
Get to the point. Only say iterate.
The prefix mis- means lack of or badly. Underestimated means an estimate at too low a value. Squish the two double negatives together and misunderestimated means lack of an estimate at too low a value.
In other words, misunderestimated is a complicated way of saying estimated.
Say what you really mean. Drop the mis-.
The prefix in- makes a word its opposite. Flammable means that an object easily burns. Push the two together and inflammable means doesn’t burn easily.
That’s not what you meant to say, huh?
This word may have a legit excuse. Inflammable is believed to derive from the Latin word inflammo meaning to burn. But we speak English, so say flammable.
Would you say alittle? Then why are you saying alot?
Alot is a misspelling of a lot. You’ll notice this when you try typing alot in a word processing program and it automatically puts a space between the two words.
Keep it as two words. Enough said.
Preventative is an unnecessarily longer version of preventive. Both words mean the same thing, but preventive is less repetitive and to the point. So drop that extra syllable.
The prefix un- reverses the action of the word. Thaw means to unfreeze or melt. So to unthaw means to un-unfreeze or un-melt.
It’s a long way of saying to freeze.
You can either freeze something or thaw it. Choose to say these words instead.