5

I would like to know how to use the excuse myself/yourself idioms. Also would be nice to know the possible situation for these sentences.

I know, if I caused any trouble I can say "Excuse me" for it. (I'm sorry because I did something wrong.)

But what about the "excuse myself?"
And yourself?

Any answer will be appreciated:).

17

"Excuse myself" would not generally be used on its own. However it may be used to describe a time that you removed yourself from a social situation (a dinner, or a party, for example):

My telephone rang, so I excused myself from the dinner.

Or

If my wife calls while I am at the party, I will excuse myself, step outside, and answer her call.

While the present tense of this would simply be

Excuse me, I must take this call.

In the above statement, you are asking the people around you to forgive you for leaving. You are, in essence, apologizing. It's a way of expressing that you enjoy their company. "I am sorry, please forgive me, but I must go."

"excuse myself" is still expressing that you enjoyed the company around you, but you didn't find it necessary to apologize for leaving. Instead of bothering the people around you, for example if they are busy and you don't want to interrupt, you excuse yourself and leave without saying anything.

For 'excuse yourself', this would generally be used to describe the second person example of the same situations.

If you must talk on your phone, please excuse yourself and step into the hallway.

In some cases it can be used on its own, as a command to someone, for example if someone does something socially impolite, you might say "excuse you!" or "excuse yourself!" For instance if I say something rude, or I burp.

"excusing", as a general verb, describes a very polite or socially acceptable way to remove yourself from a situation.

On the other hand, the noun "excuse", would be a reason for leaving, or having performed some action that requires an explanation.

I called in sick to work yesterday. My excuse was that I had to see the doctor.

Or

There is no excuse for missing your son's baseball game.

  • 1
    In British English, to "excuse yourself" can be a slightly dated euphemism for visiting the toilet. – abligh May 27 '16 at 7:46
4

Excuse can mean two different things. The first, with "excuse me", is what you said in your question. The other definition is used like so:

I am going to excuse myself from this meeting.

You would use this when you want to (politely) leave a meeting/conversation/place/et cetera. The same goes for "excuse yourself":

Please excuse yourself from the table; you are misbehaving.

4

"Excuse me, excuse myself, excuse yourself" are not really idioms, or special case exceptions to conventional constructions. They follow standard patterns of grammar that are worth knowing.

Three common definitions of the verb excuse are:

  • to forgive someone for doing something wrong. ([BUUUUUUURPPP] "Excuse me.")
  • to allow someone to leave ("Teacher, may I be excused?")
  • to say that someone is not required to do something ("Those of you who have no feet are excused from running in this foot race. The rest of you should start running.")

In all three cases, excuse is a transitive verb. Subject does the action, verb is the action, object is the recipient of the action (is acted upon.)

As with any other transitive verb, if the subject of the sentence is also the object, the pronoun switches to the -self form. This rule has very few exceptions - I can't think of any off hand.

Who hit whom?

  • I did the hitting:
    I hit you. [I am the subject, you are the object.]
    I hit myself. [I am both the subject and the object.]

  • You did the hitting:
    You hit me. [You are the subject, I am the object.]
    You hit yourself. {You are both the subject and the object.]

Excuse works exactly the same:

  • I do the excusing:
    I excuse you - you may leave. [Present tense indicative]
    I excused myself for a cigarette. [Past tense indicative.]

  • You do the excusing:
    Excuse me. [ Note - this is imperative mood, not present tense indicative. You're telling someone what to do.]
    That's so rude! Excuse yourself. [Again - imperative]

  • +1. Though it seems it could really be boiled down to only two cases. "Teacher, may I be excused (from having to stay in this room)?" Is really the same as your third bullet point - not being required to do something? – Elijah Rockers May 26 '16 at 22:01
  • They are closely related, but most dictionaries seem to have separate entries for the two meanings, as well as a couple other slight variations. My compact Webster's II New Riverside Univ. Dict. has 1 To free, as from an obligation. 2 To grant pardon. 3 To seek to remove the blame. 4 To grant allowance for/overlook. 4To serve as justification for` 5 To apologize for. (Not in that order.) – Adam May 26 '16 at 22:11

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