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What “I” Says About Me

If I use the word “I” often, is it really all about me?

A recent article by Elizabeth Berstein in the Wall Street Journal said that the amount of times we say the word “I” says more about us than we realize. The common thought was that the more we used the personal pronoun, the more self-centered we are. Traditionally it’s considered rude to begin a letter with the word “I” because it places the focus on the writer rather than the point of the letter or person the letter is addressed to.

It’s also interesting that in the English language we capitalize the personal pronoun whereas in most other languages, it is lower case such as yo in Spanish, je in French, and ja in Polish. Some may say that shows how self-centered we are as a culture.

But in fact, research from the University of Texas indicates that people who say the word “I” often are less powerful or sure of themselves. They believe it is an indication that they feel subordinate to the person they are talking to.

And marriage therapists encourage partners to speak from their point of view and use the word “I” during a confrontation. The practice of saying what “I” feel, did, or said is less accusatory than pointing the finger and saying what “you” do, did, or should be doing. Some research also indicates that it is more difficult to lie when using the word “I.”

At this point I don’t know how I feel about the use of the word “I,” or how often I use it, but I can honestly say, I don’t lie and I didn’t do it.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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