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?

  • 4
    Have you tried asking this question on English Language Learners Stack Exchange?
    – TrevorD
    Jun 13, 2013 at 11:34
  • "All by myself" "by my own reckoning"
    – user57234
    Jun 13, 2013 at 12:49
  • 2
    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, 2013 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


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."

  • 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 Jun 14, 2013 at 10:37

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

  • 3
    Er...this isn't much help, really. Jun 13, 2013 at 12:55
  • 1
    Yes. Correct; but more details on which is used when would definitely be helpful!
    – Andrew Leach
    Jun 13, 2013 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. Jun 13, 2013 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. Jun 13, 2013 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!'". Jun 13, 2013 at 18:07

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