Do you want to express that you did something unaided or that something is your own opinion? We often hear people use the phrase ‘I personally” and may wonder whether it’s correct or repetitive.
It is grammatically correct to say “I personally” to express that something has been done by you, in person, as in “I personally supervised the exam.” This reflects responsibility. We also commonly use the phrase to show that something is your opinion, but this use is somewhat redundant: “I personally don’t like spiders.”
This article will explore what “I personally” means, when to use the phrase and when not, and some alternatives to consider. We’ll also examine intensifying adverbs to understand their role in English.
What Does “I Personally” Mean?
The phrase “I personally” is made up of the subject “I,” which refers to the speaker (or writer), and the adverb “personally,” which broadly means “in person.” When you use them together, you indicate that the verb applies to you.
The speaker uses the pronoun ” I ” to refer to him- or herself. It is a singular pronoun that refers to a single person and is in the first person. We use “I” as the subject of a verb.
The adverb “personally” can mean any one of the following (source):
|I personally signed the affidavit.
|Speaking for myself
|Personally, I’m not interested in joining the tour.
|As a person
|She is personally responsible for making sure it is returned to me.
|In a personal manner
|Please don’t take this personally.
The first two are the context in which we could use “personally” together with “I.” It either means “in person” or “as concerns myself.”
The first definition dates back to the 14th century when it was used to mean “by one’s own actions.” The second definition, relating to “with respect to myself,” is a more recent usage, first recorded around the middle of the 19th century (source).
How Do You Use “I Personally”?
We use “I personally” before a verb to stress that the action applies specifically to me personally. It’s usually, but not always, at the beginning of a sentence and can never stand on its own because it needs a verb for the adverb to modify.
In “I personally,” one uses “personally” as an intensifying adverb that intensifies how the verb was actioned. For example, if we consider the sentence, “I personally called Jack to welcome him to the team,” the “personally” intensifies the verb “called” and shows that I called Jack “myself.”
Sometimes you will see “I personally” punctuated with commas, as in “I, personally, called Jack,” but the commas are unnecessary because there is no confusion without them.
We can use “I personally” in one of two ways: either to indicate that you did something in person or to indicate that you are giving your opinion.
If we’re indicating that we did or didn’t do something in person, we might say one of the following:
- I personally tasted the curry, and I’m sure it’s not too hot.
- I wasn’t personally involved in the process, so I can’t comment.
- You may not like my choice, but I personally read every submission before judging.
If we’re indicating our own opinion, then we’d likely say something like the following:
- I personally hate banana-flavored milkshakes
- You could turn right here, but I personally would avoid that area.
- Anna likes snails, but I personally can’t think of anything worse!
As you can see, the first two examples intensify the verbs and show that you did the action (tasting and being involved) in person. Therefore, you would alter their meaning in these sentences by removing “personally.”
The second two examples just indicate that you’re speaking for yourself. Here, you could remove “personally,” and the sentence would still mean the same. The addition of “personally” just stresses that it’s your personal opinion.
When Can You Use “I Personally”?
You can use “I personally” any time you want to specify that you did or didn’t do something in person. You can use it in casual conversation to show that something is your opinion.
The verb following “I personally” can be in any tense, as shown below, but you will need to rearrange the order of the words if you aren’t using the past tense:
- Past: I personally braided each dancer’s hair.
- Future: I will personally braid each dancer’s hair.
- Present: I personally braid each dancer’s hair.
The “I personally” construction is grammatically correct, and, in the context of being in person, you can use it in written or spoken English. When referring to “speaking for yourself,” it’s more casual and is better in conversation than in writing.
When Not to Use “I Personally”
You should not use “I personally” if you aren’t referring only to yourself. The phrase, by definition, implies that the rest of the sentence only concerns you. It’s also not advisable to use “I personally” in the context of your opinion in formal environments.
Although it’s grammatically correct, it seems redundant to say, “I personally dislike bananas.” If you remove “personally,” it still holds the same meaning. Nonetheless, people commonly use the phrase in informal contexts.
Using “I Personally” in a Full Sentence
There are many ways to use “I personally” in a sentence to indicate your preferences or to show that something happened in person. Consider some of the examples below.
|I personally verified the expiry dates of all the produce.
|I don’t understand how it doesn’t fit because I personally checked the sizing.
|I personally greeted each student when they arrived at Prom.
|It was onerous, but I personally unwrapped each order.
|Although I had heard the concert was excellent, I personally didn’t enjoy it.
|I personally believe that she’s not being entirely honest about her plans.
|I went to dinner, but I personally wanted to stay home tonight.
|Personally, I think beach holidays are the best kind.
Note that in the final example, we use “Personally, I.” This means the same as “I personally,” and you can use the two phrases interchangeably. When placing “personally” first, we use a comma to separate the two words and briefly pause there to speak it.
What Can You Use Instead of “I Personally”?
We’ve already mentioned that you can use “Personally, I” to mean the same thing, but other expressions can substitute for this phrase, depending on the context of the sentence.
Let’s consider the sentence, “I personally met the famous singer,” where the meaning is “in person.” Here are several alternative ways to express the sentence.
- I met the famous singer in person.
- I met the famous singer face-to-face.
- I met the famous singer directly.
- I met the famous singer in the flesh.
- I met the famous singer first-hand.
- I physically met the famous singer.
If you are speaking of personal preference, let’s consider, “I personally prefer peanut butter to jelly,” where you could use any of the following:
- I myself prefer peanut butter to jelly
- I prefer peanut butter to jelly
- From my point of view, peanut butter is better than jelly.
- In my opinion, peanut butter is better than jelly.
- To my mind, peanut butter is better than jelly.
- In my book, peanut butter is better than jelly.
- As far as I’m concerned, peanut butter is better than jelly.
- As I see it, peanut butter is better than jelly.
In the sentence “I personally checked his passport,” “personally” is an intensifying adverb. That means it’s an adverb that qualifies the verb “checked,” stressing that you checked the passport in person. We often use intensifying adverbs to modify and bolster the meaning of expressions (source).
Some of the more common intensifying adverbs include the following:
Sometimes, we need to show the intensity of things, and then we use intensifying adverbs. They give more intense color and depth of meaning to the existing adjectives in the sentence. For example, consider the following sentences that show how we use intensifying adverbs to enrich our language.
- I was totally wiped out after the marathon.
- She was utterly exhausted by the end of the hike.
- I’m extremely happy you accepted my proposal.
- Jane is a highly-rated teacher.
- That is absolutely unnecessary!
- I was really pleased to be included in his group.
Do you see how each word gives the sentence much more meaning? Without them, they would all make sense but would lack intensity and be quite dull. To read more about this, check out our articles Is It Correct to Say “Absolutely Beautiful”? and Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Definitely True”?
We’ve now clarified the meaning and use of “I personally” so that you can confidently use this phrase to either indicate that you were present in person for some event or to underscore that something is your personal view. It’s a phrase you’ll come across often, particularly in conversation. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
It’s also helpful to know how “personally” works as an intensifying adverb and how many others we use in everyday English to make our language more affluent and descriptive. I personally think language is better for them!