BITS and Pieces

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I, me, myself

What’s with the ‘myself’ bit anyway? I mean why are we Indians, well an embarrassingly sizeable number of us, obsessed or ill-informed or both when it comes to the usage of this pronoun?

And mind you, this is no ordinary pronoun. Its mere type suggests how, where and why it should be used. ‘Myself’ is a reflexive and intensive pronoun. Being a reflexive pronoun, the action has to reflect back on a pronoun that has been used earlier. A reflexive pronoun cannot simply be used in a sentence by itself. It has to refer back to a person.

A quick way to know whether using ‘myself’ in a sentence is going to be wrong is checking if the pronoun ‘I’ has been used before it. If it hasn’t been, don’t use ‘myself.’ So when someone says, “Myself Suresh” or “Nobody turned up for the party. It was just Rohan and myself,” it clearly breaches this rule of thumb that I have given you. There is no ‘I’ used before myself. So it will be wrong to say “myself Suresh” or “Rohan and myself.”

‘Myself’ is also an intensive pronoun. This means its job is to intensify or lay stress on the pronoun it refers back to. Example: ‘You yourself said that it was not true’ intensifies or lays more stress on the pronoun ‘you’ as opposed to ‘You said it was not true’ where there is no emphasis on the pronoun ‘you’.

Long story short – don’t use ‘myself’ in a sentence until it is not preceded by the pronoun ‘I.’

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Sandeep Nulkar - Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, BITS Private Limited Sandeep Nulkar started his career as a translator way back in 1993 and heads one of India’s largest translation and localisation companies – BITS Private Limited. He is a linguist by passion, businessman by choice and author by circumstances. Over the past decade, he has been working closely with the corporate world and with students and the academia to create an identity for the Indian translator within and outside India.