You have probably heard both of the phrases “myself included” and “including myself” before, but which is grammatically correct? To understand how to use “myself” in a sentence accurately, you must know how to use pronouns and reflexive pronouns appropriately.
It is incorrect to use “myself included” or “including myself” in most cases. If you use these phrases, you need to make sure that “I” is the sentence’s subject. “Myself” is a reflexive pronoun that must refer back to the “I” pronoun to be correct. However, both “myself included” and “including myself” have grown in popularity despite incorrect usage. As a result, they are considered idiomatic phrases.
In this article, we’ll review the grammar behind “myself included” and “including myself,” and we’ll discuss some different ways you can list people while including yourself!
Is It Correct to Say Include Myself?
If you are wondering whether it is correct to say “include myself” in a sentence, the answer is it depends on whether you’ve used the reflexive pronoun correctly. There are some instances where it is correct to use the phrase “include myself,” but there are also instances where it is not.
“Myself” is just one of many reflexive pronouns in the English language. These reflexive pronouns are easily identifiable because they each end in “self” or “selves” and are attached to a regular pronoun.
Review of Pronouns
As a brief review, a pronoun is a word that we use in place of a noun to avoid repetition (source). Let’s review an example to see how a pronoun operates within a sentence.
- Oliver enjoys going on walks with his grandma.
In this sentence, there is one pronoun. Can you identify it? The pronoun is “his,” and it stands in place of the noun “Oliver.”
The sentence could read, “Oliver enjoys going on walks with Oliver’s grandma,” but that sounds strange because of the unnecessary repetition. We don’t need to use Oliver’s name twice since “his” works as an effective pronoun and reduces the repetition.
A reflexive pronoun is just one type of pronoun. We use reflexive pronouns after a verb, and they need to refer back to the subject of the verb (source). Let’s see another example to understand how a reflexive pronoun looks in a sentence.
- Luke cut himself by accident.
Here, we see that the subject of the sentence is “Luke,” and the verb of the sentence is “cut.” The reflexive pronoun is “himself.” We see that “self” combines with the pronoun “him” to create the reflexive pronoun. This use of a reflexive pronoun is correct because “himself” correctly refers back to the subject, “Luke.”
When it comes to using “myself included,” you need to consider what subject “myself” is referring back to. It refers back to you, the person speaking or writing in the first person perspective! That means that you need to include the subject “I” in the sentence if you are to use “myself included” correctly.
Here is a correct example of a sentence that uses the phrase “include myself.”
- I wanted to include myself on your list of guests.
This sentence is correct because the reflexive pronoun “myself” accurately refers back to the subject “I.”
How Do You List People Including Yourself?
Sometimes we need to refer to a list of people that includes ourselves. This commonly happens in a group context, where multiple people are involved in the same activity or have the same reaction. Next, we’ll review some common scenarios that involve including yourself and the applicable grammatical rules.
Myself Included or Including Myself
Remember that “myself” is a reflexive pronoun that refers back to the subject “I.” Whether you are using “myself included” or “including myself,” it is important to check if “I” is the subject of the sentence to ensure correctness.
Let’s review some examples to get a better idea of what this looks like in practice.
|Sentence||Correct or Incorrect||Explanation|
I gave everyone a gift bag, including myself.
This example is correct because “myself” clearly refers back to the subject “I.”
Lauren doesn’t like her coworkers, including myself.
|Here, “Lauren” is the subject, so it is not appropriate to use the reflexive pronoun “myself” in this instance. To correct this sentence, you would need to change “myself” to the regular object pronoun “me.”|
For both the phrases “myself included” and “including myself,” it is important to check that the reflexive pronoun “myself” is properly referring back to the subject “I.” Another thing to watch out for is if someone uses the regular pronoun “me” instead of the reflexive pronoun “myself.”
Including Me or Including Myself
“Me” is an objective first-person pronoun, meaning that the speaker or writer is talking about themself when they use the pronoun “me.” For first-person pronouns, “I” is the subject pronoun, and “me” is the objective pronoun. Let’s look at two quick example sentences to see this in action.
- Example 1: I bought ice cream for her.
- Example 2: She bought ice cream for me.
In the first sentence, “I” is functioning as the subject. It would be incorrect to say, “Me bought ice cream.” In the second sentence, “me” is functioning properly as the object of the preposition.
It would be incorrect to say, “She bought ice cream for I.” We must use these two first-person pronouns this way: “I” is always the subject, and “me” is always the object.
In a lot of cases, the regular object pronoun “me” is actually more correct to use than the reflexive pronoun “myself.” This is because of the essential rules that govern reflexive pronouns.
In sentences where the subject of the verb is not “I,” it does not make sense to use the reflexive pronoun “myself.” Instead, use the object pronoun “me” in place of the reflexive pronoun “myself.”
We’ve demonstrated what this looks like in the following examples.
|Sentence||Correct or Incorrect||Explanation|
|Maggie told everyone, including me.||Correct||This example is correct. The phrase “including me” is more appropriate than “including myself” because “myself” has no “I” subject to refer back to. Therefore, the object pronoun “me” is the best choice.|
|Maggie told everyone, including myself.||Incorrect||Here, the use of “myself” is incorrect without an “I” subject to refer back to.|
Many native speakers of English are hesitant to use “me” at the end of a sentence because of an incorrect belief that they should never end a sentence with “me.”
Other similar areas of confusion are whether you can correctly begin a sentence with “because” or end a sentence with “is.” To learn more about the latter topic, you can check out our article “Can You End a Sentence With Is?”
Including Yourself or Including You
Another reflexive pronoun we commonly use is “yourself.” This reflexive pronoun refers back to the pronoun “you.” If you are using the phrase “including yourself” in a sentence, you must include “you” as the subject of your sentence.
It is also essential to check to see if the regular pronoun “you” would be more appropriate to use than the reflexive pronoun “yourself.”
These example sentences depict a few different scenarios to illustrate how you should use “including yourself” and “including you.”
|Sentence||Correct or Incorrect||Explanation|
You should give everyone a break, including yourself.
|This example is correct because the reflexive pronoun “yourself” appropriately refers back to the subject “you.”|
They were shocked, including yourself.
Here, “yourself” is incorrectly referring back to the subject “they.”
I think we all need a vacation, including you.
|Correct||This sentence is correct because we’ve used “you,” a regular pronoun, correctly. The reflexive pronoun “yourself” is not needed in this sentence since the subject is “I.”|
Just like with “myself” and “I,” “yourself” and “you” must go together in the sentence. We must accurately match the reflexive pronoun with the correct subject, or it will not function correctly.
We have discussed proper usage for two of the primary reflexive pronouns in English so far, “myself” and “yourself.” The other essential reflexive pronouns are the following: “himself,” “herself,” “itself,” “themselves,” “yourselves,” and “ourselves” (source).
Notice how each of the reflective pronouns end in “self” or “selves.” The examples below demonstrate how each of these reflexive pronouns can function correctly.
|Reflexive Pronoun||Sample Sentence|
|Myself||I wanted to go to the store myself.|
|Yourself||You need to take care of yourself, too.|
|Himself||John delivered the groceries himself.|
|Herself||She bought herself a new purse.|
|Itself||The cat looked at itself in the mirror.|
|Themselves||They argued amongst themselves.|
|Yourselves||Will you complete the yard work yourselves?|
|Ourselves||We are trying out for the play ourselves.|
With each of these examples, the reflexive pronoun agrees with the subject of the sentence. Additionally, the reflexive pronoun always comes after the verb of the sentence.
As a general rule of thumb, we often omit reflexive pronouns in English for things that people typically do for themselves. For example, it is more natural to simply say, “He washed his face,” as opposed to “He washed his face himself.”
Adding “himself” is unnecessary in this example, and it creates some confusion as to whose face he is washing.
An exception to the basic rules of reflexive pronouns comes into play when we use them to add emphasis. Typically, we do this when referring to someone or something of importance.
For instance, someone might say, “We met the author himself!” This is an irregular way of using reflexive pronouns that most would still consider grammatically correct.
Phrases and Idioms
Over time, all languages change. This is natural and is based on the communicative needs of the people speaking that language. As such, certain exceptions can become ingrained, and certain rules can change.
Because many English speakers use “including myself” and “myself included” so frequently in both speaking and writing, even incorrectly, they have become accepted as idiomatic phrases.
A phrase is simply a group of words that serve a common function within a sentence (source). For example, “The black cat” is a noun phrase, and “ran quickly” is a verb phrase.
An idiomatic phrase is a group of words that have a new, unique meaning when we use them together. Idiomatic phrases can also refer to a specific manner of speaking unique to a particular group of people or time period.
In English, a common idiomatic phrase is “It’s raining cats and dogs,” which means it’s raining especially hard, not that it’s literally raining animals. Essentially, idiomatic phrases are not always logical or grammatically correct, but they become widely accepted once people use them frequently enough.
Since “myself included” and “including myself” have become so common, most of us simply accept them without thinking about it, even when someone misuses them. This is especially true in informal conversations.
If someone incorrectly says, “My mom asked everyone to come along, including myself,” the reader or listener can still understand the intended meaning behind the sentence.
In this example, we should have used “me” in place of “myself,” but the usage works because it still conveys the intended meaning. This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
Idioms can be difficult to learn, but the important thing to know is that idiomatic phrases are unique, irregular, and not necessarily grammatically correct.
It is essential to know how to use regular pronouns and reflexive pronouns in English correctly. Reflexive pronouns always end in “self” or “selves,” and they help to increase the clarity of a sentence while adding meaningful nuance.
Each reflexive pronoun must properly match the subject of a sentence and follow a verb or verb phrase. It is pretty common to hear incorrect uses of the phrases “myself included” and “including myself.” This has happened so much that they have become idiomatic phrases.
Idiomatic phrases are more acceptable in informal speaking circumstances. However, it is important to demonstrate correct usage of the reflexive pronoun “myself” in writing and formal conversations. An easy way to check if you are using “myself” correctly is to ensure that it follows a verb and that the sentence’s subject is “I.”
To strengthen your understanding of reflexive pronouns, continue to learn about pronouns’ functions, including irregular usage. Another related topic for study would be subject-verb agreement. A deeper understanding of these related topics will culminate in a more thorough and practiced approach to reflexive pronouns.