“The boy spent a lot of time and effort fixing the boy’s toy car.”
Pronouns inherently exist for a reason: To avoid grammatically correct yet awkwardly redundant sentences like the one above.
However, like any other device whose job is to make our life easier and more meaningful, pronouns also serve other purposes in communication.
In today’s post, you’ll find out whether you really need to feel guilty about using “I” and “myself” together in a sentence.
Let’s start with an overview.
Is using “I myself” in a sentence grammatically correct?
“I myself” is a grammatically correct phrase in English used to deliberately add emphasis towards the subject. In this type of construction, “myself” is used as an intensive rather than a reflexive pronoun, which means it intensifies or highlights the presence of the antecedent “I.”
Pronoun whatnots: A grammatical background on “I myself”
In grammar, “I” is a type of pronoun that can only be used as a subject in the sentence.
So, unless “I” is intentionally nominalized or used as a noun, it should never appear in any other part of a sentence by all means.
Whereas, “myself” is also another pronoun that could either have a reflexive or intensive function in English grammar.
When we say that a pronoun has a reflexive function, it means that its job is to simply “reflect” a piece of action back to the subject or antecedent, just like a mirror does.
In a more technical angle, though, reflexive pronouns mark the coreference of one of the participants of a given situation with the sentence’s subject or subjects.
Reflexive pronouns are critical to the holistic meaning of the sentence, and thus, its removal would suggest either ungrammaticality or incompleteness of meaning.
Here are two examples of reflexive pronouns:
Meanwhile, we can say that a pronoun is intensive when it demonstrates a highlighting or emphasizing effect towards the subject and whatever action it does.
Unlike your reflexives, an intensive pronoun does not necessarily fulfill the meaning or argument of the verb, and thus, it is considered a grammatically dispensable element.
In its entirety, the implied meaning of the whole sentence would not essentially get lacerated without the presence of an intensive pronoun.
In other words, intensive pronouns play a rather stylistic role in language application instead of a syntactical one.
Please refer to the examples for intensive pronouns below to see the difference:
Besides the types of pronouns I’ve mentioned above, commas before relative pronouns also often cause confusion among native and non-native English language users alike.
But, as you get more familiar with these writing concerns and how to go about them, this activity will surely become just like a cakewalk for you.
Contextualizing “I myself”
Now that we’ve covered such nuances, it should be easier to make sense of the usage of “I myself.”
The case with “I myself” falls under the combination of a subject and intensive pronoun to represent more emphasis toward the subject and whatever it is doing in the sentence.
In sentences using this type of construction, “myself” is responsible for only intensifying or emphasizing the meaning of “I” and hence removable.
In addition, you would also notice that “I myself” is mostly used in poetic or philosophical rather than formal contexts.
This is because of the highlighting effect of the intensifier pronoun – a strategy used in conveying persuasive language.
As a result, the language tone becomes more personal or emotional in this type of construction and is thus avoided in formalistic situations.
Here are some examples of the emphatic use of “I myself” to demonstrate the series of explanations above:
We must never harm other people intentionally because I myself believe that karma does come around.
Punctuating “I myself” properly
In the “I myself” construction, the standard practice is not to place any commas around the second word.
Placing commas around “myself” might be perceived as grammatical overkill in most writing scenarios.
Why do you think so?
Albeit possible to enclose “myself” with parenthetical commas (commas used to set off grammatically dispensable elements), it is often avoided by writers.
Placing a comma before or after a parenthesis may also be a tricky situation for some, but constant reading and practice should always keep you on track.
As “myself” is already an intensifier per se, encapsulating the word with commas would simply make the writer seem a little too egotistical.
Consider the next example:
Context would immediately make you infer that I’m only using the example sentence above for emphasis.
But, in any other case, you wouldn’t want to read that kind of sentence in this blog, would you?
So, again, you may use commas to offset “myself” from “I,” but the grammatical convention is to drop the punctuation marks.
However, other structural reasons may prompt the adjacent use of commas to “I myself,” such as when it appears after an introductory expression or is introduced as a quoted speech.
Place a comma before “I myself” when it appears after an introductory sentence element.
The rule of thumb is to place a comma before the opening quotation mark when “I myself” is introduced as a quoted speech.
Bear in mind, though, that some subtle differences exist between American and British English conventions in terms of placing a comma after a quotation.
Commas are not rocket science. I believe going over our comma cheat sheet would also make things a lot clearer.
The case with“I” plus “myself” plus “a name”
Most, if not all, native English speakers do not resort to using “I,” “myself,” and “a name” all at once simply because it’s a grammatical triple kill.
I hope you have noticed how I punctuated the introductory phrase in the last sentence and how its meaning would’ve changed if I skipped my commas.
If not, please feel free to read our additional resource titled “‘Most if not all’: Does this expression need commas?”
Unless you are using the expression to emphasize the incomparable importance of yourself to a person who needs some form of reminder, then you had better steer clear of this usage.
Especially for followers of plain and clear English language use, any form of superfluous grammatical construction should always be avoided.
As regards punctuation, the standard practice is to omit the commas around “myself,” but, depending on the writer’s intent, it is still possible to enclose it with commas.
Here’s the preferred version of the phrase being discussed, where commas are necessary to encapsulate the full name of the person:
Here’s an alternative, less emphatic, and more formal way to express it:
Here’s an emphatic and grammatically conventional version:
Lastly, here’s a stylistically and grammatically sound version but with a more personal and emotional tone:
Frequently Asked Questions on “Is ‘I myself’ grammatically correct?”
Which one is more correct, “I myself” or “me myself”?
“I myself,” a phrase only used for deliberately adding emphasis toward the subject and the action, is more grammatically correct than “me myself” particularly if it is used in the subject part of a sentence.
What is an example sentence using “I myself”?
“At times, I myself feel like the concept of humanity is already lost.”
“You can’t convince me to do it because I myself have experienced some of its consequences before.”
When can we use “me” vs. “myself”?
“Me,” an object pronoun, is never used in the subject part of the sentence, at least in standard Englishes. Whereas, “myself” can be used as an intensive pronoun right after the subject “I” to make it more emphatic.
Language is both systematic and arbitrary, and it should remain this way for as long as we are willing to embrace arguments based on science and art.
I hope you’ve got one takeaway by this point, and that is, contextualization is key in making sense of whether the phrase “I myself” is grammatically correct.
Hey fellow Linguaholics! It’s me, Marcel. I am the proud owner of linguaholic.com. Languages have always been my passion and I have studied Linguistics, Computational Linguistics and Sinology at the University of Zurich. It is my utmost pleasure to share with all of you guys what I know about languages and linguistics in general.