Since it is time to make resolutions, there is no better moment to promise ourselves to use our precious language more carefully and correctly.
First off, I resolve to use "I," not "me," when it is the subject or doer in the sentence: "Rob and I will be there by noon," or "The winners are Kristie and I."
I alternately promise that "me" will be my choice of pronouns when it is the object or receiver of action in a sentence ("The leader called Bill and me into his office," or "Will you meet Rick and me in the park?").
And that promise carries over to the use of "me" when it is the object of a preposition ("He sat down beside Ken and me," and "They had not heard from Joe or me for a month").
I resolve to use "its" (possessive) and "it’s" (contraction of it and is) correctly ("I think it’s raining outside," and "The dog was chasing its own tail").
I make the resolution not to forget a comma between parts of a compound sentence: "Will we go by car, or should we take the train?" and "Father had three rules throughout life, and each one had special meaning."
I resolve not to use misplaced modifiers, such as, "Mary found a bracelet while walking down the sidewalk." The bracelet was not doing the walking; it should say, "While walking down the sidewalk, Mary found a bracelet."
I resolve not to use vague pronouns: "John fed his dog a new food, and he was happy." Who was happy, John or his dog?
I will also be careful not to overuse pronouns in general; it is just too confusing ("I met with Phil and Andy, but he was late so he and I went on without him").
I resolve to be sure I am using the correct word: "I started to breathe (not breath) more deeply after the shock," or "I accepted (not excepted) his offer for a ride home."
Though I know compound sentences add interest, I must resolve not to add in fragments ("He ran a light, and saw the police approach. Sinking down below the steering wheel"). Sinking…wheel is not a complete sentence.
And I resolve to be sure I use parallel structure: instead of, "I wish you happiness, success and being blessed in the new year," I make sure all those wishes are in the same form: "happiness, success and blessings in the new year."
I wish you the best in 2018.
— Sandi Ekberg taught high school English in Medford for 30 years. If you have grammar questions, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.