Here is the sentence I am struggling to make sure it is correct. What pronoun is correct- changing them to themselves or as written?

But my friends love being them, and I love them being them, but I still love being me!

  • 2
    Sammy Davis Jr. sang "I Gotta Be Me." youtube.com/watch?v=rbLlCxK0pHY But the example sentence still sounds awkward. How about: My friends love being who they are, and I love them as they are, but I still love being who I am.
    – Steven Littman
    Jul 15, 2016 at 13:56

3 Answers 3


"Themselves" is better, in the same way that "being you" is worse than "being yourself" — it's better to directly refer to the entire self, not just the essence. But this is a subtle distinction and the alternative isn't entirely wrong, so e.g. "being me" isn't rejected.

You can see from this comparison of different phrases that the preference is not completely unambiguous:

Google NGram


It depends.

"Being themselves" has the idea of displaying their true personality.

Be oneself Act naturally, according to one’s character and instincts: I want him to have the confidence to be himself - ODO

Assuming that you are using the word them as a pronoun that refers to your friends, use themselves if you prefer them to be genuine, or them if (as your phrase "but I still love being me" indicates) you're referring to them literally/ontologically.

  • Since you enjoy the fun and friendship they show when they're not in front of the camera, they should just be themselves at the presentation.

There's also another issue, which is that "them" might refer to a different group of people, not named in this sentence. Your friends may be pretending to be that group. The first part of your statement then says that both you and your friends enjoy your friends' performance, and the final part is a humorous aside. If you wanted to exclude that interpretation of them, then themselves would be a better choice.

  • Your friends do an excellent parody of those actors. It's entertaining watching them be them.

I understand that on the face of it, I've recommended that you use both terms, in turn. English sentences can be ambiguous, whether by design or by accident. Happily, however, the ambiguity is often resolved by considering the wider context.


Reflexive pronouns are used when the subject and the object are the same.

I will pay for myself.

You can pay for yourself.

They can pay for themselves.

I love being myself.

They love being themselves.

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