Me, myself and I

5 April 2018

Which is correct? ‘Me and Kaila are on the same team’ or ‘Kaila and I are on the same team'? And what about ‘The boss gave Kaila and myself a promotion’? Or is it ‘The boss gave Kaila and I a promotion'? Tiny words that often create a great deal of confusion.

The easy way

The easiest way to work out which is correct is to remove the other person or people from the sentence. You wouldn’t say ‘Me am on the same team as Kaila’ or ‘Myself is on the same team as Kaila,' would you? And I would be prepared to put money on it that you wouldn’t say ‘The boss gave I a promotion.'

Even without thinking, most people naturally say ‘I am on the same team as Kaila’ or ‘The boss gave me a promotion’, which are both correct. So, if you’re not sure whether to use I or me, just temporarily remove the other person or people from the sentence. When you add them back in, don’t change the I or the me, but do put the other person or people at the beginning of the sentence. It’s a sign of respect and shows that you’re not always thinking about yourself.

The grammatical way

If you do want to get grammatical, the word I is used when it’s the subject in the sentence. The subject is who or what is participating in or causing an action. The word me is used when it’s the object in the sentence. The object is who or what is receiving the action. For example, ‘I [subject] work with Kaila [object]’ or ‘Kaila and I [subject] are on the same team’ and ‘The boss [subject] gave Kaila and me [object] a promotion.’

What about myself?

Myself is a little different and is what’s known as a reflexive pronoun. It’s grammatically correct to use myself when you are both the subject and the object of a sentence; for example, ‘I see myself as a senior manager one day,’ or, ‘I’m going to treat myself to a holiday.’ In both of these cases, you are the object of your own action and myself is the right word to use.

You can also use reflexive pronouns to add emphasis to a sentence; for example, ‘I wrote it myself.’ The myself just adds emphasis – the meaning of the sentence doesn’t change if you take out the word myself.

Correct

Incorrect

He gave the report to Paul and me.

He gave the report to Paul and I.
He gave the report to Paul and myself.

My sister and I went to Queensland.

Me and my sister went to Queensland.
Myself and my sister went to Queensland.

I see myself as a senior manager one day.

I see me as a senior manager one day.

Please send the report to me.

Please send the report to myself.

The ‘me, myself and I’ question is just one of the many tricky aspects of English grammar people ask us about. Concise Writing Consultancy specialises in helping people improve their writing skills at work to help them get promotions and achieve better business outcomes.

Ask us about our coaching and group training options today. Call us on 02 9238 6638.

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Have a grammar question? Email our grammar guru at grammar.guru@concisewriting.com.au

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