The Grammarphobia Blog

Illiterary criticism

Q: Is there any polite way to break people of the habit of using “myself” when they should be using “me” or “I”?

A: Unless you’re the parent or maybe the spouse of the offender, there’s no polite way to correct somebody’s grammar. Just keep using good English yourself and maybe it will rub off!

I was once taken to task for suggesting during a radio broadcast that one could respond to a mispronounced word by casually dropping it into the conversation with the correct pronunciation. A listener phoned in and said such a “casual” correction would be obvious and rude. I agree (she now says).

And if you attempt to correct the grammar of a child or a spouse, please be tactful – and (need I say?) correct.

You’d be surprised at how many people e-mail me with pet peeves that are in fact misconceptions, such as the myths against “splitting” an infinitive, ending a sentence with a preposition, or beginning a sentence with a conjunction.

As for “me,” “myself,” and “I,” I’ve discussed them before on the blog, including an item last summer entitled “Self improvement.”

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