This spoonful is all about ME, MYSELF, and I. But please don't think I'm going to share my entire life story! Instead, my aim is to explain the difference between these three self-centered words.
I is a great place to start. When it makes an appearance, it's ALWAYS a SUBJECT pronoun. Consider the following sentence.
I tutor kids and adults at the local library.
Since I'm the one doing the tutoring, I am the SUBJECT. The ones receiving the tutoring - kids and adults - are the OBJECTS. (The local library answers where the tutoring occurs and is a prepositional phrase.)
In contrast, ME is ALWAYS an OBJECT pronoun. Even if you write, "Give that ball to me!" the person who has the ball (most likely you) is the SUBJECT, not me. But where I see the most errors is when ME pals around with another name. Here's an incorrect example:
"Are you coming to band practice?" Eric asks Sue and I. (WRONG!)
"Are you coming to band practice?" Eric asks I. (WRONG AGAIN!)
How do I know I is incorrect? REMOVE THE OTHER NAME! Eric asks me sounds right but Eric asks I does not! Unfortunately, Eric asks Sue and I doesn't sound quite as bad, and grammar checkers don't typically catch this error. Here are the same two sentences written correctly.
"Are you coming to band practice?" Eric asks Sue and me. (CORRECT!)
"Are you coming to band practice?" Eric asks me. (CORRECT AGAIN!)
Now you might be wondering when Sue and I would be appropriate to use. When we share the SUBJECT, of course! Here's an example:
Sue and I both read to children.
Who does the reading? Sue and I. That makes us the SUBJECT. Who are the OBJECTS of our action? The children.
MYSELF is another story altogether. It's known as a reflexive pronoun (no, there will not be a quiz), and is only used in addition to I. Why is it called reflexive (based on the root 'to reflect')? Because the SUBJECT and OBJECT are the same. Here's an example:
I write down notes to remind MYSELF about important appointments. I just need to remember where I put the notes afterward!
That's a wrap. I hope you'll never be confused about ME, MYSELF, or I again. If you like this or any of my other spoonfuls, please feel free to share!
Laura Fineberg Cooper
A Spoonful of Grammar