Me, Myself, and I: The Apprentice and the Reflexive Pronoun

What’s the most annoying thing about this year’s The Apprentice?

Is it the candidates incessantly yelling over one another in an otherwise-deserted coffee shop?
The fact that Samuel’s wife – allegedly – calls him ‘Mr President’? (Eugh.)
Karthik’s monobrow?

For me, it’s the following phrase:

‘That was myself, Lord Sugar.’

Aaaaaaagh.

Why does that frustrate me so much?

Quite simply, because – grammatically – it doesn’t make any sense.

There’s one school of thought that maybe ‘myself’ sounds a little less blunt than simply saying ‘me’. However, using ‘myself’ or ‘yourself’ seems to have become synonymous with ‘professional business talk’. Somehow, someone somewhere decided that if you referred to yourself as ‘myself’, that meant that you were a lot posher and probably better at your job than just little old ‘me’.

It’s becoming increasingly frequent to hear someone say ‘Can you send that to myself?’. Last week, I received an email that said ‘I’ve just tried to call yourself.’

And, if you give two hoots about grammar, it’s increasingly annoying.

So why is it completely wrong?

Myself and yourself are two examples of reflexive pronouns. This means that you should only use them when the object of the sentence is the same as the subject.

Sound a bit complicated? The following sentence sums it up quite nicely:

‘I looked at myself in the mirror.’

Simply put, ‘myself’ is a reflexive pronoun here, as it reflects the subject.

The subject (I – the one doing something) and the object (myself – the one having something done to it) are both one and the same. You are the object of your own action.

Therefore, using ‘me’ instead of ‘myself’, in many cases, isn’t the poor man’s choice. It’s the correct one. So next time you’re typing that email, simply say ‘please contact me with any questions.’ (And if you’re a bit baffled by this post, you can do the same. My email’s there at the bottom of this post.)

‘That was myself, Lord Sugar.’ It’s not professional. It’s wrong.

 

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