How Good Are YOUR American Grammar Skills?

license-plate

 

The quiz shown below is on the first page of my Brush Up on Your American Grammar Skills workbook, and we start every class with it. It’s the students’ first glimpse of what is in store for them during our three hours together of learning and laughing. They find out very quickly what they will need to focus on.

Many of us think we’re better in grammar than we are, and when we’re not sure, we follow others’ leads, thinking if they’re smart they must know!

But remember:

Do not ask “How smart is he?”
Do ask “How is he smart?”


Which sentences are written correctly? Note: There may be more than one right answer in any of the bigger groups.

 

1a. Our files are completely up to date.
1b. Our files are completely up-to-date.

2a. Carly said, “Fred’s a “geek”.”
2b. Carly said, “Fred’s a geek.”
2c. Carly said, “Fred’s a ‘geek.’ ”
2d. Carly said, “Fred’s a geek”.

3a. The set includes: knives, forks and spoons.
3b. The set includes knives, forks, and spoons.
3c. The set includes knives, forks and spoons.

4a. Who shall I say is calling?
4b. Whom shall I say is calling?

5a. The company has issued their preliminary report.
5b. The company has issued its preliminary report.
5c. The company has issued it’s preliminary report.

6a. Jeff invited Bruce and I to meet with he and Stacey.
6b. Jeff invited Bruce and myself to meet with him and Stacey.
6c. Jeff invited Bruce and myself to meet with he and Stacey.
6d. Jeff invited Bruce and me to meet with he and Stacey.
6e. Jeff invited Bruce and me to meet with him and Stacey.

7a. Tom Smith (the president of Tom’s Shoes) will be in the office today.
7b. Tom Smith, the president of Tom’s Shoes will be in the office today.
7c. Tom Smith, the president of Tom’s Shoes, will be in the office today.

8a. Susan Jones’ car is the red one.
8b. Susan Jones’s car is the red one.
8c. The Joneses’ cars are in the south parking lot.
8d. The Jones’ cars are in the south parking lot.

9a. The chicken layed an egg in the nest.
9b. I’m going to lay down for a nap.
9c. I’m going to lie down for a nap.
9d. The chicken laid an egg in the nest.
9e. Earlier, I lay down for a nap.

 

Just so you know, I failed a similar quiz 20 years ago when I first went to work for Fred Pryor Seminars. I thought the quiz would be easy! (I really did think I was a grammar hot-shot.) FPS’s quiz was more basic than mine; it only had A or B for answers, so I had a 50-50 chance.

 

I missed four of the questions, and I had NO idea why. That drove me nuts. So I learned.

And so can you. Let’s face it: Most of us didn’t take much notice of the grammar we were taught when we were about 12 or 13; how could we have known we’d grow up to care? Even if we did listen and learn, we might not have heard things correctly, we might have forgotten some of the rules, or what we learned might have changed over the years and we didn’t keep up.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of confusion over punctuation and usage. We hear things, we see things, and we’re not always sure what is correct.

So, here are the answers (the bold ones are correct).  And remember this is the AMERICAN system; yours might be different.

1a. Our files are completely up to date.
1b. Our files are completely up-to-date.

2a. Carly said, “Fred’s a “geek”.”
2b. Carly said, “Fred’s a geek.”
2c. Carly said, “Fred’s a ‘geek.’ ”
2d. Carly said, “Fred’s a geek”.

3a. The set includes: knives, forks and spoons.
3b. The set includes knives, forks, and spoons.
3c. The set includes knives, forks and spoons.

4a. Who shall I say is calling?
4b. Whom shall I say is calling?

5a. The company has issued their preliminary report.
5b. The company has issued its preliminary report.
5c. The company has issued it’s preliminary report.

6a. Jeff invited Bruce and I to meet with he and Stacey.
6b. Jeff invited Bruce and myself to meet with him and Stacey.
6c. Jeff invited Bruce and myself to meet with he and Stacey.
6d. Jeff invited Bruce and me to meet with he and Stacey.
6e. Jeff invited Bruce and me to meet with him and Stacey.

7a. Tom Smith (the president of Tom’s Shoes) will be in the office today.
7b. Tom Smith, the president of Tom’s Shoes will be in the office today.
7c. Tom Smith, the president of Tom’s Shoes, will be in the office today.

8a. Susan Jones’ car is the red one.
8b. Susan Jones’s car is the red one.
8c. The Joneses’ cars are in the south parking lot.
8d. The Jones’ cars are in the south parking lot.

9a. The chicken layed an egg in the nest.
9b. I’m going to lay down for a nap.
9c. I’m going to lie down for a nap.
9d. The chicken laid an egg in the nest.
9e. Earlier, I lay down for a nap.

If you want a pdf copy of my Brush Up on Your American Grammar Skills workbook, send me a message with your e-mail address. I would be happy to send it to you! It’s what I use in my three-hour corporate trainings, and there’s some really good information in it.

PS: The picture at the very top is my license plate. Really.