Love a Challenge? Test Yourself – Just for Fun

Each of the following sentences has at least one grammatical, spelling, or usage error. See how many you can catch:

  1. Each of our employees needs to quickly review the company policy on checking personal email at their desk.
  1. To answer you’re question, having our Weekly Staff Meeting at 8:00 a.m. is not that much different than having it later in the day.
  1. Less sick days were taken this year than last, when over 1500 were used.
  1. Are you implying that Mary is not doing her job.Thats what she inferred!

Ready for the answers?

  1. Each of our employees needs to quickly review the company policy on checking personal email at their desk.
  • Each of our employees needs to do a quick review of the company policy on checking personal email at his or her desk.

Errors: (1) “Each” (singular) does not match “their” (plural). (2) “To quickly review” is a split infinitive. Don’t put anything between the “to” and the action word – in this case, “review.”

More Explanation: Who we’re talking about here is “Each.” “Of our employees” is a prepositional phrase explaining who “Each” is. Because “each” is singular, we would use “his or her desk.”

If we knew that all employees were male, we could say “his.” If all employees were female, we could say “her.” We could use “their” if we said, “All of our employees….” In this case, the correct sentence would read:

All of our employees need to do a quick review of the company policy on checking personal email at their desks.

While it is correct, putting “quickly” at the end of the sentence seems a bit contrived, and could easily be misunderstood. I would probably use a “workaround” and re-write the sentence. Something like (and note the change of tone here):

Take a quick look at the company policy on checking personal email at your desk before our 4:00 p.m. meeting today.

  1. To answer you’re question, having our Weekly Staff Meeting at 8:00 a.m. is not that much different than having it later in the day.
  • To answer your question, having our weekly staff meeting at 8:00 a.m. is not that much different from having it later in the day.

Errors:(1) “You’re” means you are. “Your” is possessive, and should be used here. (2)  “Weekly Staff Meeting” should not be capitalized, unless  “Weekly” starts the sentence. (3) Things are different from, not different than.

  1. Less sick days were taken this year than last, when over 1500 were used.
  • Fewer sick days were taken this year than last, when more than 1500 were used.

Errors:  (1) Use “fewer” when it is something you can count. Use “more than,” rather than  “over” when you’re talking about quantities. “Over,” means above, and describes where something or someone is located.

  1. Are you implying that Mary is not doing her job. Thats what she inferred!
  • Are you implying that Mary is not doing her job? That’s what she inferred.

Errors: (1) “job” should probably have a question mark after it, rather than a period if you really mean it as a question. (2) The customary one space should come after the period, and before “Thats.” (3) “That’s” should be spelled with the apostrophe, and means “that is.”

More Explanation: (1) Let’s take a look at two words: “imply,” and “infer.” “Imply” means something a person is indicating, whether he or she says it in the exact words or not. “Infer” means the way the listener, or reader “gets it,” whether it has been said in the exact words or not.

Just an interesting side note: Did you notice that what follows the colon in the first line of this paragraph (above) begins with a capitalized word, while in the first line of the paragraph just above, the colon was followed by a lower-case word? Why?

Because, if what follows a colon is a complete sentence, or a proper name, the first word after the colon is capitalized. If it is not a complete sentence – say, for example, a series of things – it is not capitalized.

So how did you do? Let me know how you enjoyed testing yourself.

 

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

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