Communication Skills

JS Tip 6: Reflexive Pronouns

Pronouns (I, you, we, he, she, they, etc.) are substitutes. They fill in for other words. The words they fill in for are called their antecedents. 

English has eight types of pronouns; this tip deals with one: the Reflexive Pronoun.

Reflexive pronouns end in -self (singular) or -selves (plural) and refer back to—reflect—their antecedents.

For example: “I could've kicked myself (reflecting “I”) for losing the account.”

To say “Please call Jennifer or myself at . . .” is inappropriate. “Myself” becomes a person without a country, a pronoun without an antecedent. “Me” is the correct substitute, the correct pronoun: “Please call Jennifer or me at . . . .”

In Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers enters the room and declares “Allow myself to introduce . . . myself.” The line gets a laugh because Austin Powers, with all his bravado, misuses a reflexive pronoun and sounds like a fool.

Don't let the same thing happen to you.

Our thanks to Brian Bub, a good friend, from Tucson Electric for this week's tip.