Professional Style

-Self Words

February 2011
Spot the Error

The charity gala was well attended by high-level politicians, captains of industry, members of the yacht club, and, of course, Babs and myself.

Can’t you just envision some “Thurston Howell III” in a smoking jacket, puffing on a cigar and swirling a snifter of brandy, saying something like that? (Maybe I should change “Babs” to “Lovey.”) It’s enough to make you feel like a lowly Gilligan. But fear not. No matter how sophisticated Thurston may sound, his grammar is gauche.

Self words—himself, herself, myself, and the like—should be reserved for two purposes only:

  • Emphasis – She was proud to say that she changed the oil in the car herself.

  • Reference to another word in the sentence – I took one last look at myself in the mirror before leaving for work.

So, unless the -self word is being used for one of those purposes, it should be switched for one of the following types of pronouns:

  • Nominative case – I, you, he, she, they, or we.

  • Objective case – me, you, him, her, them, or us.

In the “charity gala” sentence above, the phrase should be “including Babs and me” … no matter how unsophisticated it may sound.

~ Thank you, Julie G., for the topic suggestion.

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