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Why the problem with "Myself?"

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Why do so many intelligent, well-spoken people have such a propensity to misuse the word "myself?"


I see it in blogs, in advertisements, in emails, and on web pages. And few days ago I was horrified to find this error in an email from a copywriter. If anyone should know better, it's a person who earns her living writing for other people!

She wrote: "I want to personally invite you to join myself and (name of friend), for a special webinar…"

“Myself” is not a subject word and it’s not an object word. "Myself" is a reflexive pronoun, which means you ONLY use it when you’re referring back to yourself as the subject of a sentence.

For instance:

·        I went to a movie by myself.

·        I enjoy spending time by myself.

·        I can entertain myself for hours with a good book.

·        I speak only for myself when I say…

It is always incorrect to use “myself” as a subject or object, and yet… people do this ALL the time pass or failwhen they add another person to the mix. For instance:

·        Please join Joe and myself.

·        Please call Sally or myself.

·        Harry and myself will be looking forward to hearing from you.

You can see how ridiculous it sounds when you take that other person away…

·        Please join myself.

·        Please call myself.

·        Myself will be looking forward to hearing from you.

If they wrote any of those things, surely they'd see that it was wrong. Wouldn't they??

Did you catch the other glaring errors in that copywriter’s message? 

The first one rates right up there with the one I used to hear in high school: “Me and Sally are going to the movies.”

1.     She put herself ahead of her partner. While proper grammar says pronouns come ahead of nouns in a list, when the pronoun is “I” or “me” the rules of etiquette trump the rules of grammar. You always say “Harry and I” if you’re the subject or “Harry and me” if you’re the object. 

2.     She began her message with the words  "I want." One of the "rules" of copywriting is that you must never, ever, begin your message with "I" - and especially "I want" - because your reader just doesn't care what you want. They care about what THEY want, so your introductory sentence needs to appeal to their self-interest.


I almost sent a note to that copywriter, asking her if someone else wrote her promotion. But I didn't. If she is who she claims to be, she knows that the message was a huge fail, and it might take her some time to live it down. 


“Pass Fail Buttons ” image courtesy of Stuart Miles|freedigitalphotos.net


Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Hannah Williams.

I know you wouldn't Inna Ivchenko . Most of us wouldn't - but enough do that I seem to write about it again every few months. 

Mar 14, 2015 04:22 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

What I learned

Mar 14, 2015 11:43 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Marte, I love these posts of yours and each time I read them, I always think to myself "what's the big deal and why to people have such trouble" with what are obvious things to me.

Mar 14, 2015 10:36 PM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I am glad I stopped by to read your post, thanks to Kathy's weekly summary!

Mar 14, 2015 11:26 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

I love your posts on grammar!  What a shame that the copywriter made such mistakes....she needs to subscribe to your blog, LOL!

Mar 15, 2015 12:45 AM
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Me, myself, I... thank you Marte Cliff for pointing out the not always obvious of what is hunt, pecked, posted.

Mar 15, 2015 01:10 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Marte -it is part of the sloppy speech we all hear.  A copywriter should know better.

Mar 15, 2015 04:37 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kathy Streib Thank you for the inclusion - and for giving me some good reading for this afternoon. 

Nina Hollander I don't really understand it either. If you were learning/using English as a second language, I could see it. Our language IS a bit confusing. But if you grew up with it and teachers from first grade up were telling you/ correcting you, there's no excuse.

Of course, some teachers don't bother with grammar. My son had one of those in 2nd grade. After listening to a couple of her students in a "Show and tell" session I asked why she didn't correct their grammar. She told me if she did, it would be insulting to their parents. 

Mar 15, 2015 07:49 AM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

The limited number of letters and characters should make our language simpler than most. Then the rules come out and mess up the flow Marte Cliff. You've latched on to the tip of an iceberg here.  

Mar 15, 2015 07:51 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kristin Johnston, Waukesha Realtor 414-254-6647 Thanks for stopping by. 

Sharon Tara She's been around as a marketer longer than I have... so it was especially startling. 

Andrew Mooers You and yourself are entirely welcome.


Mar 15, 2015 07:52 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Grant Schneider The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that she didn't write it herself - and that she simply failed to check someone else's work before it went out under her name. 

Kevin J. May You are so right - just the tip.

Since I'm not multi-lingual I don't know for sure, but I have a sense that our language is unique in that we have so many slang words that are a part of every day speech. 

A few years ago I wrote a lot of articles for EzineArticles.com and they would get picked up by others who who put them through a "spinner" before publishing them. I was mortified that they left my name on them because some of it was truly ridiculous. For instance, when I spoke of my husband as a retired home builder, it would come out that he was "an old bag builder." When I said "You can" do something it came out "You crapper" do something. 

Mar 15, 2015 07:56 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

There are words that I feel all tripped up about but myself isn't one of them.  I have no issues with saying me and I wonder why others do.

Mar 15, 2015 09:38 AM
Beth and Richard Witt
New York, NY
The best Retired Brokers !!!!

Thanks for the lesson Marte... I always get this stuff messed up... But then I'm sure you are already aware of that... Happy Day Marte... From Myself...

Mar 16, 2015 05:05 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks for the giggle Richard & Beth Witt.

Mar 16, 2015 05:15 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Marte, maybe this copywriter is writing the stuff for the newbie agent sending out the inappropriate postcards exaggerating his experience.

Mar 16, 2015 02:13 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Patricia Kennedy Could be - but from what I've seen, I don't think she's really real-estate oriented. 

Mar 16, 2015 02:27 PM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Thank for the tutorial Marte, I hope that I am not one of the bloggers who you noticed making this mistake.

Mar 16, 2015 04:22 PM
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate
John L Scott Market Center - Birkenfeld, OR
"Your Local Expert!" 503-739-3843

My bestfriend has used this incorrectly for YEARS on her voicemail message (she's in real estate also)....it bugs me everytime I hear it. I s'pose that I ought to tell her, as she is a smart lady, but somehow it never comes up....I don't get to see her or speak with her that often, so it seems rather silly to bring it up THEN. 

Mar 17, 2015 05:56 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Bob Crane I don't believe you are!

Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905 It's hard to know what to do when it's a friend. I grit my teeth every time my (retired school teacher) neighbor says things like "They invited my son and I," but I don't say anything. He prides himself on his extensive vocabulary and I think he would either be angry or embarrassed if I pointed out the mistake. Shoot - he might even argue about it! 

Mar 17, 2015 06:26 AM
Troy Erickson AZ Realtor (602) 295-6807
HomeSmart - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Marte - You always offer some great advice on grammar. Thanks for sharing. I know I could use as much help as possible.

Mar 17, 2015 01:39 PM