better grammar through onanism

Although the title of this blog might have been meant to be ironic (sometimes I just don’t know anymore), I have decided that the time has come to regularize my discussion of grammar here.  Regularize?  Yeah, that’s right; I am now verbing adjectives, too.

As the subject of this auspicious occasion I have chosen the reflexive pronoun–or, as I often call it, the most often and most obnoxiously misused of all the pronouns. 

It’s my theory that people believe the reflexive sounds fancier than what’s actually called for (usually just your basic accusative), and thus they try to sound more worldly and imposing by tossing it in where it doesn’t belong. Unfortunately, one never sounds like a bigger asshat than when proclaiming, "The research department is headed by Jim and myself."  Unless, of course, it’s "Please refer any questions to myself," or "Just between you and myself, I watch a lot of porn."

Myself is a reflexive pronoun, you swaggering buffoons!  That means you use it to indicate that a given verb has an identical subject and direct object. It reflects back on itself.  It is not ever to be used as the object of a preposition, unless it is identical to the subject, or in the idiomatic expression of solitude, "all by myself."

Listen up, you bombastic, self-aggrandizing junior executive types:  Here is where you can learn something from the pop music canon!  Use your reflexive pronouns correctly by following these examples:

"I don’t want anybody else
When I think about you I touch myself" –The Divinyls

"When there’s no-one else in sight
In the crowded lonely night
Well I wait so long
For my love vibration
And I’m dancing with myself" –Billy Idol

"All by myself
Don’t wanna be
All by myself anymore"–Jamie O’Neal

Keep these tunes in mind and you’ll never again make such a fool of yourself.  And who doesn’t want to annoy as many people as possible by walking around all day humming "I Touch Myself" to anyone who will listen? Everybody wins.

SUPER GRATIFYING UPDATE:  A New Zealand googler just got here via this search.  You’re welcome, my friend.  The pleasure is all mine.  I think I need a cigarette now.


  1. Hey, I am glad to inspire throuh song–especially those songs that stick in your head and won’t go away, like “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega.

    do do DOOO do
    do’ do DOOOoo do’…


  2. speaking of “obnoxiously misused,” how about personal websites as breeding grounds for pretension and disdain for the woefully less-educated people of the world? i know that, by definition, your personal website is just that: personal. but by virtue of the fact that you’re publishing these personal thoughts on the very impersonal internet, you’re open to visitors from everywhere. i’m sorry you’re so miserable, vague. i really am. i’d like to think that there are some things in the wide world that you manage to enjoy without all the snark (or booze), but the frequency of your posts somewhat diminishes that hope. it pains me to think that your students might actually look up to you, when all you do is bitch (in a fairly public domain, nonetheless) about what numbskulls they are. how do you manage to enjoy literature when you can’t stand the world it reflects? ah, though i suppose when you see it all as nuances grammar and semantics and etymologies, you’re not in it for the feeling in the first place. farewell, vague. may your students never be so unfortunate as to stumble across your website.


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