Pronouns are one of the more challenging concepts to grasp in English. Throw a second pronoun into the mix, and you have an even more complex puzzle to unravel. You may ask if the two words are in the correct agreement or if both are necessary. This begs the question: Is it correct to say “I myself”?
It is correct to say, “I myself.” “Myself” is an intensive pronoun that emphasizes the personal pronoun “I.” You may pair the two pronouns to intensify your statement about what you did yourself. We primarily use the phrase for something we oversaw in person. For example, you could say, “I myself examined the machine.”
“I myself” is a tricky phrase to use. We’ll dive deeper into its meaning and use in the following paragraphs. Hopefully, you’ll feel much more comfortable using this complicated phrase at the end.
What Does “I Myself” Mean?
“I myself” means that the speaker wants to emphasize the point he or she is about to make. It takes an ordinary statement and stresses the fact slightly more. “I myself” adds more assertion and importance to what the speaker is saying than if they had merely used “I” by itself.
See the difference in these two sentences:
- I don’t think you have any reason to be here.
- I myself don’t think you have any reason to be here.
Adding the intensive pronoun “myself” packs more punch than if we did not include it. The first sentence merely states a fact. However, the connotation of the second sentence suggests, “I don’t know what anyone else thinks, but I don’t think you should be here.”
We form the phrase by combining the personal pronoun “I” with the intensive pronoun “myself.” You might argue that it’s a bit redundant. And you’d be right. However, it is perfectly acceptable to say “I myself” when you wish to place added emphasis on what you are saying (source). Here are some more examples:
- I myself wasn’t impressed by his speech.
- You might have liked the movie, but I myself found it rather dull.
- I myself found the play to be quite brilliant.
How Do You Use “I Myself”?
We use “I myself” to add emphasis or stress a point. While it’s perfectly acceptable in writing, it is much more common in spoken English. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t write it. You will find that it sounds more appropriate when spoken rather than written.
Use “I myself” when you wish to intensify the importance of the following information or opinion. A stand-alone “I” will almost always work in the same sentence. But you may substitute the phrase for added emphasis.
Using “I Myself” in a Full Sentence
Because “I” is a subject pronoun, you should always use “I myself” in the sentence’s subject. You should never use it in the predicate.
- Wrong: You should turn in your homework to I myself.
- Wrong: The only one here is I myself.
- Wrong: Surely you must believe I myself!
Knowing how to punctuate “I myself” is another challenge. Some people think commas should enclose the phrase, but that is not true in most cases (source).
While not grammatically incorrect, you risk sounding a bit conceited when you surround the phrase with commas. See these examples:
- I, myself, find the rules too stringent.
- I, myself, have been waiting entirely too long.
- I can’t believe that I, myself, had to wait at all.
“I myself” always uses the first person singular form of the verb “to be.” So you should never use the plural form of the verb.
- Wrong: I myself are presiding over the meeting.
- Correct: I myself am presiding over the meeting.
- Wrong: It were I myself who arranged this meeting.
- Correct: It is I myself who arranged this meeting.
When Can You Use “I Myself”?
You can use “I myself” to emphasize the following information. Using it is a way to stress what you are about to say. It places added weight as opposed to merely stating “I.”
See the difference here:
|“I” alone||“I myself”|
|I didn’t care for the book.||I myself didn’t care for the book.|
|I don’t plan to attend.||I myself don’t plan to attend.|
|She said I was the best performer.||She said I myself was the best performer.|
When Not to Use “I Myself”
While not incorrect or inappropriate, you should generally reserve “I myself” for speech rather than writing. People use the phrase in written English, but you’ll see it most in written dialogue. In those cases, there is technically a person speaking aloud who is being quoted in writing.
Again, you can use “I myself” in writing. But do so cautiously. The unnecessary or excessive use of the phrase makes the speaker appear self-important. To see this for yourself, read these sentences and then speak them aloud. Note the difference.
|Appropriate for speaking||Better for writing|
|I myself find the room a bit chilly.||I find this room a bit chilly.|
|The heat was more than I myself could bear.||The heat was more than I could bear.|
|I myself don’t care for mushrooms.||I don’t care for mushrooms.|
As mentioned previously, you should also never use it in the predicate of a sentence. Instead, the correct pronoun to use in the predicate of a sentence is “me.”
See the examples below:
- Wrong: For help, you should call I myself.
- Correct: For help, you should call me.
- Wrong: The person in charge is I myself.
- Correct: The person in charge is me.
- Wrong: It surprised I myself that he came.
- Correct: It surprised me that he came.
You should also limit “I myself” as much as possible, even when speaking. When you overuse the phrase, you can sound cocky or arrogant. If you continue repeatedly using the phrase, your audience may have difficulty understanding where you want to place emphasis.
Read through the following paragraph silently, then aloud. In both cases, consider how you perceive the person who is speaking. Also, see if you have trouble differentiating what he or she wants to stress.
“I myself found the entire performance rather lackluster. The production was so long that it was almost more than I myself could bear. I myself was particularly unimpressed with the solo at the end of Act One. That was a song that I myself could have done without.”
What Can You Use Instead of “I Myself”?
One alternative to using the phrase “I myself” is to omit the “myself” entirely. The meaning will not change. However, the sentence will lose some weight.
See how the following sentences flow just as easily without the addition of “myself”:
- I couldn’t care less.
- I am a big fan of football.
- I don’t like cold weather.
Splitting up the words “I” and “myself” is another common variation of the phrase. In this format, “myself” takes on the role of a reflexive rather than an intensive pronoun. There’s more to come later, but here are some examples. Note the softer, humbler tone in the second column.
|“I myself”||“I”… ”myself”|
|I myself baked the cake.||I baked the cake myself.|
|I myself built the entire thing.||I built the entire thing myself.|
|It was I myself who claimed first place.||I claimed first place myself.|
Intensive and Reflexive Pronouns
“I” isn’t the only pronoun with a corresponding intensive or reflexive pronoun. In fact, every personal pronoun has its own match. They also end in “self” or “selves,” making them easy to identify.
Look at the table below to see for yourself.
|Personal Pronoun||Intensive/Reflexive Pronoun||Example Sentence|
|I/me||Myself||I signed it myself.|
|You||Yourself (singular)/Yourselves (plural)||You can see for yourselves.|
|He/Him||Himself||He said so himself.|
|She/Her||Herself||She carved the statue herself.|
|It||Itself||It charges itself while you drive.|
|We/Us||Ourselves||We’re coming by ourselves.|
|They||Themselves||They broke it themselves.|
|One||Oneself||One might ask oneself that.|
Their classification varies depending on how we use them in the sentence. As reflexive pronouns, they refer back to the subject, making it both the initiator (subject) and the recipient (object) of the action described. As intensive pronouns, they add emphasis or stress a point.
You may wonder if this means that other pronouns besides “myself” can be paired directly with their personal counterparts to form intensive pronouns. The answer is “Yes!” When these pronouns immediately follow their personal pronouns, they become intensive rather than reflexive. Here are some examples:
|Pronoun Pairing||Intensive Usage|
|She/Herself||She herself permitted us to enter.|
|They/Themselves||They themselves saw you steal the money.|
|We/Ourselves||We ourselves would prefer inside seating.|
So, to recap, when paired together in direct succession, the intensive pronoun emphasizes the subject or places importance on what the subject is saying. On the other hand, when separated in the sentence, the reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject when it and the object are the same (source).
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
As you continue your English language journey, you may run into other tricky situations involving pronouns, particularly “myself.” To further brush up on this topic, you might also enjoy reading Myself Included or Including Myself: Which is Correct? and Is It Correct to Say “and Myself”?
Hopefully, you yourself now have a better understanding of the correct use of intensive pronouns like “I myself.” They are appropriate to use in speech as well as writing. Just do so with caution!