Me vs. Myself: What’s The Difference?

Learning a language’s grammatical concepts is arguably one of the most difficult things about learning any language.  For example, for anyone who has ever learned a foreign language before, you know how difficult it is to memorize verb conjugations, different forms of pronouns, lists of noun rules, and various other grammar rules.  And if you have ever learned more than one other language, it can be very easy to get them confused.

Welcome to English, a language that is considered to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to master due to the complexity of its rules and the fact that it actually breaks its own rules more often than not.  The exceptions often outnumber the rules, and it can be very hard to keep track of what is right and what is wrong, especially if you find yourself working with several different groups of people with their own colloquialisms or slangs.  English lends itself to several common grammar mistakes that beginners and experienced English speakers alike make often.  

Another thing that can make the English language exceptionally difficult is that its grammatical concepts actually seem to bridge gaps in meanings and often employ the use of homonyms, words that sound the same but have different meanings.  In addition, English also has several words that have very similar root words but actually have completely different uses.

In this article, let’s explore the words me and myself, what they mean, learn their proper use, look for their synonyms, and learn their etymology and context as well as some grammar tips.

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Definitions of Me and Myself

The first step in really trying to understand a word and how to use it properly in a sentence or in your vocabulary as a whole is to learn what the word means.  According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word me can be defined as, “the objective case of the pronoun I”.  On the other hand, the definition of the word myself is, “that identical one that is I, used reflexively or for emphasis”.  It can also be defined as, “my normal, healthy, or sane condition”. 

While the words are both pronouns, they have very different proper uses in context, but that will be explored later. 

For now, it is important to note that while there are only a few rather “accepted” definitions of the words me and myself, culture really defines language.  Therefore, to say that a certain word is correct or incorrect has to be a result of a larger body of people who speak a language actually deeming it so, through consistent use and application in context.  For example, the word “selfie” over a hundred years ago would have been considered not an accepted or proper word in the English language, but today it is found in most dictionaries due to its popularity.  

Remember that the dictionary cannot be the definitive authority on any language topic and that to fully understand a word, you have to turn to the people who use it. 

What Part of Speech Are the Words Me and Myself?

Another important step in figuring out how to use a word properly is to learn how to use it in a sentence.  More important than that is actually determining where to use a given word in a sentence.  In English, words can be used to describe people, places, things, actions, and states of being.  However, modifier words like adjectives for nouns and adverbs for verbs can actually add further meaning and definition to words that describe things.  For example, saying “the truck drove” tells something, but saying “the red truck drove quickly” tells you even more about both the truck and the specific action and type of action it was taking.  

Both “me” and “myself” are first person pronouns, however, they take different roles in modification.  The pronoun “me” is an objective pronoun and is used as the object of a sentence, whereas the word “myself” is a reflexive pronoun and is only used by individuals referring reflexively to themselves in some way either as a personal pronoun or intensive pronoun. When you are the indirect object or direct object of your own action rather than the actual subject of the sentence, you should use “me.” 

Sometimes the word myself is improperly used in an attempt to sound more sophisticated or educated, but this is in fact counterproductive and is best left alone.  When in doubt, use the word “me” as the object pronoun when referring to yourself as the object of a verb.  

How Are Me and Myself Used in an Example Sentence?

Here are some brief examples of both words being used in a correct sentence so that you can become more familiar with subject pronouns and object pronouns.

Me:

  • “He spoke to me yesterday about his pet peeves.” (Me, in this case, being the object of the sentence, he being the subject of a sentence.  The object receives the action from the subject)
  • They asked if anyone wanted to go, and I said, “Who, me?”
  • I have a feeling that nobody really likes me very much anymore.  Nobody wants to talk to me.

Myself:

  • “I did not feel like myself today.   I felt unproductive, uncomfortable, and tired”.  (In this case, the word myself is still used reflexively as a singular pronoun, but takes the second definition)
  • I am going to buy myself a new car this week.
  • Even though I was myself a member of the group, I felt like we were unproductive.

Where Do Me and Myself Come From? History and Etymology

Finally, it is important to learn where a word came from in an attempt to really understand it.  The Etymology of the objective and reflexive forms of the “I” pronoun actually stretch all the way back to languages such as ancient Latin and Greek.  According to EtymOnline.com, the words came from the Greek and Latin pronouns “eme” and “me” respectively.  The words eventually migrated to English through Western European languages such as High German, Irish, and Middle Dutch.  

In Summary

Hopefully, now you feel fully confident in using the correct word when talking about yourself according to English usage.  If not, don’t stress it. There is plenty of room for improvement and grammar checkers to help you out along the way!

Sources:

  1. https://thewordcounter.com/blog-common-grammar-mistakes/ 
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myself 
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/me 
  4. https://www.etymonline.com/word/me#etymonline_v_12485 
  5. https://thewordcounter.com/midnight-and-noon/ 
  6. https://thewordcounter.com/is-vs-are/