3

Is it correct to say:

I want to create a brighter future for my family and I.

Or is "I" supposed to be replaced by "myself"? Is there a better way to construct this sentence?

7
  • 1
    Most people would much prefer for me and my family over for my family and I. Reflexive myself can be used in both, but it's a less common option. Note that for my family and I sounds very "starchy, formal", so that one is more likely to use the reflexive pronoun (but even there, straightforward I is more common). May 14 at 13:34
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers I must admit that, to me, “for my family and I” is simply an error rather than ”formal.” But I recognize its distressing frequency by those attempting formality. Presumably, I shall be dead before it becomes formal. May 14 at 13:56
  • @JeffMorrow: I kinda doubt she'll ever say it in public again now, but don't you at least have a soft spot for The Queen's My husband and I... ? May 14 at 14:13
  • Most English natives will get this wrong 9 times out of 10,. or accidentally get it right & not know why. I honestly wouldn't worry too much about it. "My noun & me/my noun & I" is almost a class distinction rather than a grammatical one. May 14 at 18:46
  • @FumbleFingers "I want to create a better future for I" is surely grammatically incorrect. "But I want to create a better future for myself" is not only grammatical, but sounds natural and idiomatic, whereas "I want...a better future for me" - sort of serves the purpose, but unless I was seeking to stress "ME", I wouldn;t use it.
    – WS2
    May 14 at 19:41

1 Answer 1

4

Technically,

for my family and I

is not grammatical. It seems to come from a mistaken fear that “me” is not grammatically proper when combined with “and.”

In fact, “me” is proper as the object of any verb or preposition.

He cursed me.

He cursed her.

Those are correct. For some illogical reason, people think that therefore

He cursed her and I

must be correct. In fact, it is not correct.

He cursed her and me.

You may replace “me” with myself, but it is usually reserved for emphasis.

I want to provide for myself and my family

suggests that your primary interest is personally self-centered and your interest in your family is secondary.

EDIT: The original poster asked a follow-up question as a comment. This edit responds to that comment rather than the original question.

English grammar has so many nuances that it is easy to oversimplify, and I hope that I have not done so below.

The basic form of the first person, singular pronoun used as the object of a verb or preposition in grammatical English is “me,” not “myself.”

Using the basic objective form of a pronoun as the object of a verb or preposition is always good grammar except for one situation. That one situation is when the pronoun identifies the same person, thing, persons, or things that constitute the subject of the relevant clause.

He taught me Latin

Correct

He taught myself Latin

Incorrect

I taught me Latin

Incorrect

I taught myself Latin

Correct

Now this basic use of reflexive pronouns is supplemented by a second use as an intensifier.

I myself am not going, but my wife and children are.

In this example, the reflexive pronoun is used to emphasize the distinction between what the speaker is doing and what the rest of the speaker’s family is doing. Here is another example of using a reflexive as an intensifier.

She did it for me, for myself alone.

Now there are rare cases where both the reflexive and objective forms of the pronoun are proper, but in such cases the meaning may be slightly different. Such cases involve multiple pronouns, one of which refers back to the subject.

I am trying to provide for me and my family

implies “me and my family” are a unit that is not the same as “I” and so does not suggest a priority for self over kin.

I am trying to provide for myself and my family

implies that “me” and “my family” are distinct entities, one of which is the same as “I”, and so may suggest a priority of self over kin.

12
  • If I were to change where myself is in that sentence, would I want to provide for her and myself sound correct? Also, if I is not the subject of the sentence, which one of these is it correct to say They shot her and (me/me myself/myself?
    – JOUA
    May 14 at 9:07
  • 2
    I would go further and remove the "technically", and state categorically that "for my family and I" is categorically and incontrovertibly incorrect. We will of course get a tsunami of backlash from hypercorrecting blowhards whose understanding of English grammar stopped after learning "me and my friends went to the beach" is incorrect at age 7. May 14 at 10:32
  • @PrimeMover I tend toward prescriptive grammar myself, but a purely descriptive grammar is not absurd. What you and I call ungrammatical is in fact quite frequent, and English has a long history of eliminating inflections. I simply choose not to invite disputes about descriptive and prescriptive grammar. May 14 at 12:22
  • 1
    @JOUA For a response to your comment, see edit to my answer. May 14 at 13:18
  • 1
    You wouldn't like "My wife and I's seafood collaboration dinner", then? But even though I accept that most people "don't like it", I think there's no doubt that it's "linguistically sound" (as per the top answer to that linked ELU question). So -1 for your first sentence, which I think should go no further than "non-idiomatic" or "non-standard", rather than "not grammatical". May 14 at 14:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .