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A reader submits the GrammarGripe of the day: “myself” and “yourself

So, we venture upon an exploration of self …

~SELF as in: myself, yourself, himself, yourself, itself, but never hisself.

Although we will only talk about the singulars today, know that the same rules apply for the plural versions:

~SELVES as in: ourselves, yourselves, themselves, but never theirselves.

When ~SELF or ~SELVES is added to a pronoun such as my, him, your, her, and it, the pronoun becomes reflexive (directed back on itself).

Think of a mirror; the reflection implying the subject’s action back on itself. Such as:

Someone else just sees her. However, in the mirror, she sees herself. herself

Same for him … others just see him, but he sees himself in the mirror.himself

What’s wrong with these examples?

1. “The horse has bolted, leaving myself steaming with frustration.”

Where’s the reflection? “I,” “me,” or “my” is never the subject of the sentence, so, the reflective “myself” as an object does not match. (The horse would not see “myself” in a mirror.) It should read, simply, “The horse bolted, leaving me steaming with frustration.” Recommendation: make sure the gate is locked.

2. “This serves as your exclusivity agreement between [co. name] and yourself that …”

This gets slightly confusing because “your” is part of the sentence. However, remember that it is the agreement (itself) that is the subject and “yourself” is used, incorrectly, as an object. Therefore the reflection is misaligned. (The agreement would not see “yourself” in a mirror.) This clause should read: “This serves as your exclusivity agreement between [co. name] and you that …” Recommendation: get a different lawyer to write your contract.

There are many usage notes on this topic. If you want more, check out a couple of other sources, including:

myself” on Dictionary.com, and, our favorite:

Legal Lad’s explanations in Grammar Girl’s column from a couple of years ago.

You enjoy yourself!

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