Writing well is a key skill in the business world. Your colleagues, clients, stakeholders and target audience are likely to be well-educated people. They may well notice a split infinitive, a misplaced possessive apostrophe or an ill-advised Oxford comma. Making simple, or even sophisticated, grammatical errors can affect how you’re viewed by your audience, particularly if they have a favourite grammatical pet peeve.

You can imagine that as an English Literature graduate, and lawyer-turned-copywriter and avid member of the grammar police, I may have a few grammatical pet peeves. It’s an unusual sort of joy that somebody gets out of grammar, but there you go, we exist.

One thing I noticed frequently in my time in business writing in a law firm, was the mis-use of “me”, “myself” and “I”. So here are some simple clarifications:

How I might confuse myself with something that’s not me

Referring to yourself in the first person is easy right?

  • I ate cake for breakfast.”
  • I’m decorating the bathroom with tessellating mosaics.”
  • I write copy for websites”

I’m sure you’ve cracked the use of that singular, nominative, first person pronoun.

But let’s throw in another person, or a reflexive pronoun and suddenly mass grammar chaos unfolds. Even in professional circles, you’ll see (at least the equivalent phrasing):

  • “Me and Cheryl are off to see the Spice Girls’ World Tour.”
  • “Myself and Ronald are heading to the pub after work”
  • “Come to the kitchen for 2pm for tea and biscuits with Glenda and myself.”

Cringe! It’s like chewing tin foil isn’t it? So when can you use “me” or “myself” without invoking the painful grimaces from the grammar police?

Accuse me, don’t confuse me

“Me” is accusative.

Use it when you’re the object (rather than the subject) of the sentence:

Polly drove me to the shops.”

Simple. You didn’t need me to tell you that one.

Even in the plural, if you’re accusative, you remain a “me”

So, even if you have another person in your sentence, “me” remains accusative.

This is the one that causes the most hiccups (or hiccoughs? I never know). 

If you have any problems, please contact Susan and I.”  But you wouldn’t say “if you have any problems, please contact I”, would you? You’d say me. So why have you changed it because Susan got involved? If you have any problems, please contact Susan and me.”

Or another example:

Last week, my brother told my mum and I that he wanted to become a blog writer” Sounds vaguely right, doesn’t it? Sort of sounds like good grammar? But it’s wrong. You wouldn’t say he told I that he wanted to become a blog writer.” Use me. If it works in the singular, it works in the plural too.

If you’re subjective, you’re always an “I”

So, if Polly drove me to the shopsand you’re hanging out with Polly today, she doesn’t change your lovely single person nominative pronoun.

Polly and I went to the shops.”  Super. Enjoy the shops with Polly.

As opposed to Polly and me went to the shops.” Ouch. Unless you’re Ja Ja Binks, you wouldn’t habitually say me went to the shops.”


If your education was anything like mine, you weren’t taught about reflexive verbs until you studied French. 

Nobody explained the English versions, because it’s all intuitive to a native speaker, isn’t it?

Generally it is. You’ll naturally say that I refer to myself in the first person” or I market myself as a legal copywriteror that I sing to myself in the shower,”  (unless of course you have a wider audience for your shower concerts).

Most commonly, “myself” is simply the reflexive version of me, to be used with verbs that point back to yourself.

It’s not some sort of aggrandised version of “I” or “me”. You’d be amazed how often you’ll see “myself” misused:

Linda and myself will arrange that for you shortly.”

Really? Why are you inexplicably reflexive here? Just use “I” when “I” fits without Linda.

Emphasis on myself

You might also use the reflexive if you want added emphasis.

Geoffrey thought that ‘Shrek’ was the best movie he’d ever seen. I, myself, consider ‘Finding Nemo’ to be vastly superior.

Sounds a little pretentious though doesn’t it? And often it is. But at least it’s correct.


And finally, comparisons. In colloquial English, we’ve become a little lazy with comparisons. It’s generally accepted that you can say that Martha has more blogs on her website than me.”

As a real grammar nerd, you’ll know that comparisons are still nominative. So really,Martha has more blogs on her website than I do.” She’s also taller than I am and has better taste in clothes than I do. She’s definitely not more pedantic than me.


Have a check of your sentence in the most simplified terms. Reduce it to just describe what “I” did or what happened to “me”. If it doesn’t make sense, because now me went for Ikea meatballs or Freddy took I to see the Olympic gymnastics, then you’ve picked the wrong pronoun.

Don’t let the other people in the sentence put you off.  They don’t change who you are. Ever. Not even in your syntax.

If you’d like to hire a professional copywriter or proof-reader to avoid your clients’ grammatical pet peeves, get in contact with me for a quote.