Q. This is an excerpt from an investigative report:
Officer Doe said that Sgt. Smith takes sleeping pills while on duty. Officer Jones stated that on a couple of occasions, Sgt. Smith gave him sleeping pills to help him relax. When asked what time of day he would take these pills, Officer Jones responded, around 11:30 p.m.
It was unclear to me who he referred to, and I asked the writer for clarification. The answer I received from the writer was “The pronoun he refers to the last male proper name mentioned, therefore Jones, but I’ll make it clearer.” I had not heard this before. Is this a rule of writing?
Q. I have seen some texts using the pronoun her to refer to a business: “Apple’s profit was high due to her impressive product designs.” I would like to learn when I should use the feminine pronoun and when I should avoid it.
Q. What is your preference for expletives (as in CMOS 5.28)? I have been taught that “It’s important that you eat breakfast” should be changed by a vigilant editor to something else, like “You really should eat breakfast” or “Breakfast is an important meal of the day.” Are expletives acceptable or not preferred?
Q. I’ll often hear people say “me and Kathy,” not “Kathy and me.” Shouldn’t me come after the person’s name? “Kathy and me,” not “me and Kathy”?
Q. Is it equally acceptable to say “My friends and I went to the concert” and “I and my friends went to the concert”?
Q. In a sentence like “the authors thank Natalie and Isabel for her editorial assistance,” is it grammatically correct to use the pronoun her and not their?
Q. I’m editing an article in which the author interviews a transgender person who prefers the pronouns they/them. For example, the author writes, “During Harry’s senior year, they were one of five contestants.” Do I change the sentence to “he was” or leave it as the author wrote it to respect the politics of sexual transitioning? The article is published in a newsmagazine (not a scientific journal) for a professional association of psychological therapists.
Q. A colleague and I are pondering the correct usage of reflexive pronouns (CMOS 5.48). Can they be used as objects of the preposition if they still refer back to the subject of the verb? Here’s our example: “I see benefits for both my class and myself in using that approach.” We could rewrite the sentence and may do that, but we’re more interested now in the “legality” of the usage. Would switching class and myself sound less awkward? That way, myself would be closer to its subject.