Walter E. Williams

How many times have you heard a statement such as "Tom and myself were working together"? When one of my students makes such a statement, I ask, "If Tom were not with you, would you say, 'Myself was working alone'?" Words such as "myself" or "himself" are reflexive pronouns. Their proper use requires reference to the subject of the sentence. For example, "Tom injured himself." A reflexive pronoun can also be used intensively for emphasis, "Tom himself was injured." In both cases, himself refers back to Tom, the subject of the sentence.

How about, "He is taller than me." Whenever I hear such error, I visualize Dr. Martin Rosenberg, my high school English teacher, with his hands on his waist, sarcastically asking a student, "Do you mean 'He is taller than me am'?" "Am" is the understood, elliptical, or left out, verb at the end of the sentence. The subject of a verb must be in the nominative case. To be grammatically correct, the sentence should be, "He is taller than I."

I wonder whether it's just me, or is anyone else bothered by silly talk? It might be that I'm getting old and out of touch, or it might be that I'm suffering from having received my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people and nonsense was unacceptable.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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