English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

As a Spanish speaking person, I think I have a very good level of English, but I still get confused with the use of “by myself” versus “by my own”. Can someone please give me some key ideas (and examples) about when to use which, so I can definitely avoid this doubt?

share|improve this question

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, TimLymington, MετάEd, Marthaª, Hellion Jun 14 '13 at 15:53

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Have you tried asking this question on English Language Learners Stack Exchange? – TrevorD Jun 13 '13 at 11:34
"All by myself" "by my own reckoning" – user57234 Jun 13 '13 at 12:49
This isn't, strictly speaking, off-topic here, or even general reference, but I strongly agree with TrevorD: this type of question is vastly more welcome at ELL. Also, there is no such phrase as "by my own" — you can sometimes meet this sequence of words, as axrwkr demonstrated, but the phrase you actually want is "on my own". – Marthaª Jun 13 '13 at 19:15

From an other forum I've found an explanation that seems very clarifying about that:

"Theses two phrases mean almost the same thing, but they are used in different context.

You would say, 'I want to find out about it on my own.' But you wouldn't say 'by myself' because 'on my own' means for myself, and not just 'by myself.'

You could say 'I went swimming by myself', and that would mean that there was no one there swimming with you. But if you said that you went swimming on my own, that could mean that you didn't ask anyone to go swimming with you, that you wanted no company with you.

So by myself indicates that you were alone by chance and on my own means that it was a decision you made to be alone."

share|improve this answer
Okay, I think I explained myself badly...I just wanted to have examples of sentences containing "preposition + myself/herself/etc" vs "preposition + pronoum + "own""...thanks anyway Trevor/Martha for your answers...I will try ELL – Sergio Farias Jun 14 '13 at 10:37

It is either "by myself" or "on my own", depending on the context.

share|improve this answer
Er...this isn't much help, really. – Brian Hooper Jun 13 '13 at 12:55
Yes. Correct; but more details on which is used when would definitely be helpful! – Andrew Leach Jun 13 '13 at 13:05
I've closevoted the question, but I'd still be interested to know if anyone can think of contexts where "by myself" and "on my own" can't be used interchangeably, or where they mean something different. – FumbleFingers Jun 13 '13 at 16:18
@FumbleFingers The only example I can think of would be in commonly used phrases. I think that "I'm on my own, now" tends to suggest that you'll have to fend for yourself, whereas "I'm by myself, now" tends to suggest that you're alone. If you want any more examples, you're on your own. – chaosamoeba Jun 13 '13 at 17:45
@chaosamoeba: Good one! I agree [to be] on [possessive pronoun] own usually means to be without help from others. But regardless of whether it was Deitrich, Garbo, or Monroe, any or all of them could have said "I want to be on my own". These things are subtle though - I see from Google that all three of them (and Hepburn) are credited with the later clarification "I never said 'I want to be alone.' I only said 'I want to be left [or let] alone!'". – FumbleFingers Jun 13 '13 at 18:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.