Q. A colleague and I are pondering the correct usage of reflexive pronouns (CMOS 5.48). Can they be used as objects of the preposition if they still refer back to the subject of the verb? Here’s our example: “I see benefits for both my class and myself in using that approach.” We could rewrite the sentence and may do that, but we’re more interested now in the “legality” of the usage. Would switching class and myself sound less awkward? That way, myself would be closer to its subject.
A. If the object of the preposition refers to the subject of the sentence, it can indeed be reflexive. There’s no need to move it closer to its referent if the meaning is clear—and in any case, it’s polite in English to put oneself last.
I see benefits for myself.
I see benefits for both my class and myself.
In both sentences, myself is an object of the preposition for and refers reflexively to the subject of the sentence, I.
She sees benefits for me.
She sees benefits for both my class and me.
In these sentences, me is an object of the preposition for, but it does not refer to the subject of the sentence, she, and is therefore not reflexive.