Any serious Austin Powers fans* among you will recall the notoriously awkward spy’s famous lead-in: “Allow myself to introduce . . . myself.”
It’s obvious to us just how not-quite-right his comment is, yet somehow when we’re speaking, we sometimes find ourselves tripped up by our selves: yourself, myself, and so on. (For the record, Austin should have said, “Allow me to introduce myself.”)
More often than I would like, I hear a person say something like this: “If you have any problems or questions, please speak with Anjali or myself.”
And I cringe.
While that wording almost does sound more serious or learned, it’s really just wrong. The grammatical version of that statement is “Please speak with Anjali or me.” Simple and correct.
The key thing to remember about these –self words is that they only apply when a speaker or writer is talking about an action she is taking toward herself. (See? I told you!) So, while you talk to me, I talk to myself. (Sue me—I live alone.)
While I find you wandering around the mall parking lot, you find yourself lost. While he may think highly of himself, she knows he isn’t all that.
The next time you’re second-guessing yourself, just remember these guidelines. Intuitively, you know them most of the time—but on occasion, you might forget. And of course, if you have any questions, please see me (not myself!).
Here’s to the next draft,
Got a burning question about grammar and punctuation rules or writing best practices? Drop me a note at email@example.com or reach out on Twitter or Facebook!
* “Serious Austin Powers fans”: Is that an oxymoron?