In the past week, I have seen the word myself misused two times in business writing, so I am interpreting that as a message from the grammar gods that we need to address it in a Monday’s Mistake.

Here’s one of the mistakes I saw:

“After you get the information, send it to John and myself.”

Do you see what is wrong with the sentence?

It should say me, not myself:

“After you get the information, send it to John and me.”

If the writer hadn’t included John, do you think he would have written this?

“After you get the information, send it to myself.”

Nope. And that’s how we know it’s wrong.* He would have written:

“After you get the information, send it to me.”

Words like myself are reflexive pronouns, meaning—in a way—they reflect a pronoun, if you will. For example:

  • I looked at myself in the mirror.
  • You should have paid the bill yourself.
  • She put herself first.
  • They brought this on themselves.

Do you see how each reflexive pronoun is referring back to the pronoun that is the subject? That is how you correctly use a reflexive pronoun.

*I have to admit that as a reader who is halfway through reading all 33 Hamish MacBeth mysteries in a row, all of which are written with a Scottish dialect, this use of myself doesn’t sound as odd to my ear as it otherwise would. In those books, people say things like “It’s yourself” instead of “It’s you,” or “Herself is at the hotel” instead of “She is at the hotel.” But in proper English business writing, we don’t. 🙂

Sharon Ernst is a retired freelance copywriter now on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes.