New Year’s Resolutions


Here are twenty grammar and language resolutions you might want to consider for 2016:

  1. I resolve to learn the difference between “lay” and “lie” or avoid using them: “The cat is not standing up on the couch.”
  2. I resolve to use “lay” and “lie” interchangeably with abandon.
  3. I resolve to start using the object pronoun “me” when it’s appropriate even if I think it sounds wrong: “The Grand Jury indicted the vice president and me (not I) for fraud.”
  4. I resolve to give up the myth that sentences can’t begin with “and” or “but.”
  5. I resolve to use “impact” as a synonym for “affect” only in truly dramatic contexts: “Itchy eyebrows affect (not impact) my concentration.”
  6. I resolve to revive and use at least one solid, ordinary word in place of an elegant alternative: “Uncle Charlie will be in prison (not a correctional facility) this New Year’s Eve.”
  7. I resolve to stop saying “I feel badly” and feel smugly superior to those who do: “I feel bad (not badly) about Uncle Charlie.”
  8. I resolve to learn once and for all how to use apostrophes or make a large contribution to The Apostrophe Protection Society (
  9. I resolve to strive for conciseness and clarity in writing: “If (not In the event that) you can’t (not you do not find yourself in a position to) stop (not cease and desist) drinking (not imbibing alcoholic beverages), I will file for (not commence legal proceedings toward) divorce (not a termination of our marriage).
  10. I resolve to pretend that I don’t understand what “interface” means.
  11. I resolve to stop making a fuss about the “10 items or Less” sign at the supermarket.
  12. I resolve to stop using the expression “I have issues with” and just say what I mean: “I loathe (not have issues with) your mother’s cat.”
  13. I resolve to break off all relations with anyone, even one of my children, who consistently uses “awesome” to describe things that aren’t actually awesome.
  14. I resolve that when somebody thanks me, I will say, “You’re welcome,” not “Thank you!”
  15. I resolve to use “eh?” as a tag question only when speaking to Americans: “So, you may elect a fascist this year, eh?”
  16. I resolve (unless I move to the UK) to put periods inside final quotation marks.
  17. I resolve to avoid potentially offensive misplaced and dangling modifiers: “Being no longer of any use to anybody, Grandma decided to throw out my late Uncle Stanley’s pipe collection.”
  18. I resolve to stop using the hyphenated “thank-you” except as an adjective: “Thank you (not Thank-you) for the thank-you note.”
  19. I resolve to use the wordy expression “at the end of the day” only literally: “At the end of the day, I’m going home.”
  20. I resolve to use happy faces only in emails I send to small children.

5 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions

  1. 1. Done.
    2. What??
    3. Of course!
    4. Done that long ago.
    5. I rarely use “impact” as a verb.
    6. I never had a problem with this.
    7. No problem.
    8. Sho’ ‘nuff!
    9. Yawn …. Tell me something new!
    10. I don’t have to pretend.
    11. That will be a tough one for me.
    12. Sometimes I have issues with your blog.
    13. I wrote the book on that, as you know.
    14. OK …. Not hard to do.
    15. Huh???
    16. Depends on the exact wording, Alan.
    17. You can dangle me if you ever hear me do it.
    18. ☺Yawn …. Tell me something new!
    19. You mean, of course, I’m going home this evening.”
    20. No way; I’ll use them as much as I please, pedant! ☺


    1. Brilliant! Except for 16–What does wording have to do with this punctuation rule?–and 19.–The end of the day could be the late afternoon. In your response to 20, what is a semicolon doing after “No way.” I have to do a blog on the use of the semicolon. be sure to read it. _!_


  2. 16: Wording has a lot to do with it. I can imagine instances where the period should be within the quotes, and others where it should be without….

    19: Perhaps the end of the day is the afternoon …. for those who don’t have a life, Alan!

    20: The verb is implied in the clause, “No way”, hence a semi-colon can be used….

    Bonne nuit!


    1. But wording has nothing to do with whether the period goes inside or outside the end quotation mark; it’s entirely a matter of convention.

      There is no way “no way” is an elliptical clause….oh!


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