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Objective, Reflexive, & Subjective

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

How very sad that it has come to this. More and more, it is the reflexive pronoun that is used when the speaker (or writer, in this case) is unable to determine whether to employ the subjective pronoun (“I”) or the objective pronoun (“me”).

Dear Friends: Plonit and myself have been asked to …

… Please let Plonit or myself know if …

Thank you,

Letter Author

If you are wondering where my grammar fanaticism originates, look no further than DadGiraffe. He took one look at the above letter and it just about sent him over the edge (and he’s a really calm guy):

…It is astounding how many people today misuse the word myself. They have somehow gotten the wrong message that the words I and me are to be avoided because they make the speaker/writer appear to be egocentric. Instead they erroneously substitute the word myself. …

And he’s right. According to The Grammar Lady, the following test should be applied:

To determine whether to use I or me, eliminate other people from the sentence.

You wouldn’t say, “Myself has been asked to…,” nor would you say, “Please let myself know…”

Ben Yagoda (Yes, quoted again. He’s THAT good!) points out that there may be another explanation. The excessive usage of myself might be due to what he calls “verbal self-indulgance.” That’s when the writer (or speaker) bypasses the basic word and goes right for the SAT word.

“Utilize” instead of “use” and “at this point in time” instead of “now.”

Interesting theory…

And before you go running to your nightstand to see what our dear friends, Strunk and White, have to say about this, let me save you the trip.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Effes.

That’s right. They are silent on the topic.

Grammar Lady (z”l) suggests that it is not covered because it had not yet reached epidemic proportions.

They would be really sad…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Thursday, 19 June 2008 11:30 am

    Ugh, that drives me nuts as well.

    I recently told my friend about the eliminating other people from the sentence thing, and she had never heard that before. I thought everyone learned that in school?!

  2. Thursday, 19 June 2008 8:15 pm

    You must try this quiz! I thought I’d do so well, but scored a miserable 40%. Back to class for me!

  3. Dadgiraffe permalink
    Friday, 20 June 2008 12:07 am

    I trust that everyone understood that what nearly drove me around the bend (a fine British expression!) was the letter that you quoted at the top of your entry. What followed the colon in your entry was my reaction to the misuse of MYSELF.

  4. Frume Sarah permalink
    Friday, 20 June 2008 7:48 am

    Hil — where did your friend attend school???

    James — I got 80%. However, I disagree with one of the answers I got wrong. But that is neither here nor there.

    Dad — I have edited the entry to better reflect your ire!

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