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Grammar Goof-ups (or is it Grammatical Goof-ups?)

My husband and I headed south to the city this morning and for an hour, I read out portions of the book, Woe is I, Jr. – the younger Grammarphobe’s guide to better english as Chris maneuvered the car through the snow and slush. My big question was this – is the correct spelling, “women’s” or “womens”? I came across that dilemma so many times when I was writing my book. But besides my all-important question, I’m quite aware of many grammatical slip-ups in our language. So, challenge yourself with this quick test and see how you do. The answers are at the end of the blog.

1. Is it “Sarah is taller than me.” or “Sarah is taller than I?”

2“Cactuses” or “cacti“?

3. What’s wrong with this sentence?    “Someone parked their bike in John’s parking spot.”

4. When we say, “Have a cookie,” where’s the subject?

5. Which sentence is correct?

“Either toast or pancakes is always available.

or

“Either toast or pancakes are always available.”

6. TRUE or FALSE?         “None” is plural most of the time.

7. Which is correct?

“If I were king, no one would flunk.” 

or

“If I was king, no one would flunk.”

8. Pick one:

Danielle hung the picture 

Danielle hanged the picture.

9. Which one of these sentences would you say is right?

Lisa’s mom thinks sky-diving is dangerous. 

Lisa’s mom thinks that sky-diving is dangerous. 

10. When do you use, “altogether” and when do you use, “all together”?

_______________________________

On top of the grammar, there’s all the punctuation complications and the counter-intuitive spelling (explain why through, trough and though sound so different.) This language is tough. We often depend on,  “well, this FEELS right” but more times than not, we’re not FEELING right. I consider my husband to be markably better than average when it comes to grammar but he only got about half of the questions correct when I asked him. (Mind you, to his defence, I must reiterate that he was driving through a snowstorm when I was drilling him with grammar questions!)

After reading this book, I do believe that the correct answer to my original question is  womens’.

Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?
Clarence Darrow

CORRECT ANSWERS

1.  I

2.  both are correct

3.  The problem is that the sentence mistakenly puts a plural word (their) where a singular word (like his or her) belongs. “Someone” is singular, therefore  the sentence should read, “someone parked his (or her) bike in John’s parking spot. 

4. When we suggest or demand that someone do something, the subject is always a hidden, “you”. The subject is the person we are talking to. What we’re actually saying is, “You, have a cookie.”

5. “Either toast or pancakes are available” is correct.  The noun closest to the verb is plural so the verb is plural too.

6. TRUE. Many people think “none”  means “no one” and is always singular but in most cases, it is plural.

7. “If I were king, no one would flunk” is correct. There’s a special “iffy” kind of grammar that we use for if sentences when the if part is untrue. When we’re in the “iffy” mood, was becomes were. When an if statement is true, use was. For example, “If yesterday was Thursday, I had gym class.” (yesterday was Thursday)

8. The word, hanged is used for only one thing – death by hanging.

9. Both are correct.

10. All together means “all at once” or “all in one place. ie. The Smiths were all together at Christmas.

Altogether means “in sum” or “entirely”. ie. Altogether there were nine of them.

No Comments

  1. Anne

    I beg to differ – I believe it’s women’s. As well, poor Clarence Darrow obviously didn’t know that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition – he should have said “to whom are you going to speak it” (he,he)

  2. Vicky

    I are so dang proud of you with all yer book writin’.

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