Grammar Genius or Goon?

Staff

Let's say you're addressing a holiday card to a family with the last name "Smith." How should it appear on the envelope?

It's a common misconception that an apostrophe is necessary to pluralize family names … but it soooo isn't! Simply add an "s" to the end of the name, even if it ends in "y" (ex: Cory becomes Corys). Slap an "es" on the end of names that end in "sh," "z," "ch," "x," and "s" (for instance, Jones becomes Joneses).

Finish these sentences: "Brian and ___ shared a pizza." "The dog ran right over to Brian and ___."

This one trips people up all the time, so don't feel bad if you've made the error! "I" is usually necessary at the beginning of a sentence (before the verb), but "me" is for the end (or after the verb).

Which of the following is a correct representation of how a year should be written?

This is yet another example of people putting apostrophes where they don't need to be. Resist the urge!

Add in the missing words: "___ time for the dog to get ___ bath."

These two get mixed up all the time, even though the difference is very simple. "It's" is simply a shorter way of say "it is." The apostrophe just means a letter is missing. So never include the apostrophe unless you really mean "it is."

Fill in the blanks: "The Atlanta Falcons are going to ____ in the playoffs again." "I lost so much weight that my pants are getting ___!

Loosely put, use "lose" when something is, well … lost (like a game or the remote control). "Loose" generally applies to animals running wild or that tooth that knocked into someone else's fist. You cannot "loose your mind."

Which of these is a real word?

Nauseous is a legit word, but it's commonly used incorrectly ("I'm so nauseous!" No, you're not. You're nauseated.) However, "irregardless" and "conversate" are bastardizations of actual words and should be banned from existence.

What's the meaning of "i.e.," anyway?

"I.e." is often confused with "e.g.," although they mean different things. "E.g." translates to "for example," but "i.e." means "that is" or a way for the writer to clarify a previous point. Both abbreviations come from Latin phrases.

Which fits into this sentence? "I'd rather have steak ______ chicken for dinner."

One little letter substitution makes a whole lot of difference in this case. "Than" makes comparisons, whereas "then" usually places an event somewhere in time. "She smacked me on the head, then she apologized for it after I incorrectly used 'than' in a sentence."

True or false: "Less" and "fewer" can be used interchangeably.

Less should be used in cases where you can't accurately count or quantify items or experiences. For instance, "I have less experience in advertising than the job calls for." "Fewer" should be put in play when something is quantifiable. For example, "She drank fewer glasses of wine than she did last night to avoid getting so plowed."

True or false: There should always be a comma before "and" if you're separating elements in a series.

Not since Prohibition has an issue so starkly divided the masses. Some people cherish the Oxford comma (the one that comes before "and" in a series), while others cringe at the very sight of one. Unfortunately, it depends on what type of writing you're doing and which style guide you've chosen to adhere to. So take that ambiguous answer and champion your comma (or lack thereof) with all your power.

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About This Quiz

Its two common for smart people too make grammar mistakes. What's you're grammar IQ?

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