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Me, Myself, and the Presidential Candidates

I have been watching the debates of the candidates vying for the nomination of their party for U.S. president. Whatever their politics, I would like them to get one thing straight about English grammar:

The word myself is not correct in place of I or me. That means it is wrong to say things like these:

The other candidates and myself agree on this issue.

Both John and myself have plans in place to solve this problem.

You will get the same answers from John and myself.

Here are the correct versions:

The other candidates and I agree on this issue. (You can recognize that I is correct because "I agree on this issue" is correct. Also, your grammar and spelling checker should offer the correction.)

Both John and I have plans in place to solve this problem. ("I have plans in place" is correct, and your grammar and spelling checker should tell you so.)

You will get the same answers from John and me. ("You will get them from me" sounds and is correct. However, my grammar and spelling checker got this wrong: it suggested I. )

Use myself to reflect back to an I earlier in the sentence:

I would like to take that question myself. (I . . . myself)

I myself instituted a similar program. ( I myself)

I can speak for myself. (I . . . myself)

Whether you accept the candidates’ views and promises or not, do not be misled by their incorrect use of myself. Saying it repeatedly in Iowa and New Hampshire does not make it right.


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.