Me, Myself, and I hate Pronoun Abuse #writingtips

Earballs (n) plural : : The part of your brain that ‘hears’ what you are visually reading.

I want to talk about pronouns. Specifically, I want to address the ever-confusing REFLEXIVE PRONOUN. Like my beloved semicolon, there is much abuse in the Reflexive Pronoun world. We’re all going to take a giant leap toward ending Reflexive Pronoun abuse!

What is a Reflexive Pronoun? Myself, Himself, Herself, etc.

For now… I’m only going to focus on Myself. Because if you can master “myself” you can figure out all the others by YOURSELF. See what I did there?

Me – Me is an object pronoun. Me is always used as the object of sentence. In other words, the VERB is happening TO ME. You can remember this by asking, “What is happening to me??”

She gave me the cookie.
He ran beside me.
The dog chased me.

In all of those examples something is happening to ME, making ME the object of the action.

I – I is a subject pronoun. I am always the subject of my own sentence because I am the master of my own universe.

I like cake. Who likes cake? I do.
I am a writer. Who’s a writer? I am.
I would like you to learn about pronouns. Who would like you to learn? I would!

Myself – Myself is a reflexive pronoun. It is used ONLY in conjunction with I. It is used to add emphasis and/or REFLECT back on the subject of the sentence. And WHO is the subject?? Duh, I AM.

I did the job myself.
I propped myself up on the pillow.
I, myself, did all the work.

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<BEGIN RANT>

Now, I’m  going to rant about something that bugs the bejeezus out of me in fiction writing. It’s when authors using reflexive pronouns like this:

I found myself standing before the king.
I found myself in a lot of trouble.
I found myself confessing my hatred for pronoun abuse.

Grammatically, this is perfectly correct.

But figuratively, it makes me want to claw my earballs out.

It’s like the character has suddenly woken up from a coma. “What the f*@% am I doing here!?!”

But… that’s a personal thing for me. Technically, like I said, there’s nothing wrong with it. Just know: if I ever read your work and come across this phrase used in any other way than a character going on an Eat-Pray-Love-type journey to “Find Themself” in a very spiritual sense, I’m pointing and laughing at you.

</END RANT>

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What about that tricky little conjunction “AND”?

“And” always seems to screw up the best of us.

Carol and I went to the store.
She sang louder than Debbie and me.

How do you keep those straight? Drop what’s on the other side of the conjunction and decide what makes sense.

I went to the store. (Me went to the store, is just plain dumb, right?)
She sang louder than me.

Want to point and laugh at me? Here’s an actual example from my published novel, THE SOUL SUMMONER:

He was a bit older than Adrianne and myself, maybe twenty-two, and he had a sweet, genuine smile.

That was published in the first edition. And it’s wrong. 🙂 Nice, huh? Made it past my editor and 6 proofreaders. The correct form of that sentence would be:

He was a bit older than Adrianne and me, maybe twenty-two…

Eeek! Even reading that now, it hurts my earballs. Why? Because it sounds wrong. Why does sound wrong? Because Americans don’t speak good!

Apply the rules above to determine which word to use:

Who is the subject? Not I. He is.
If the subject is anything or anyone other than “I”, YOU CANNOT USE MYSELF.

What happens if I drop what’s on the other side of that conjunction? I’m going to remove Adrianne and see what happens…

He was a bit older than ME.

Ahh… that makes perfect sense. Right?

Clear as mud, are we?

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