Grammar is a beautiful creation. It holds together the chaos of thought and language and organizes it in a system that conveys thoughts from one mind to another. It’s really a magic trick, when you think about it. Anyone who has ever been to a meeting knows that what seems clear in one mind becomes completely muddled when it is communicated by someone else. We have grammar to thank for the development of culture and the growth of relationships. When we don’t speak and write using the same rules of engagement, communication fails—along with our ambitions of working together.
If you could go on and on with this ode to the benefits and beauties of grammar, then it’s quite likely you’re a grammar whiz. Why would you be so fond of it, if you weren’t a devoted practitioner? However, you may be resting on laurels of grammar whiz-dom earned long ago. When was the last time you actually studied a grammar book? What if some of your surety is misplaced? If you call someone out for a grammar mistake, you had better be certain you’re absolutely correct and have the rule to back you up. So, scroll on to freshen up those skills, or to get the good feeling you know so well—the shine that attends acing a quiz. Of course, after you ace the quiz, you can always pass it along to challenge your friends (who really could benefit from being schooled).
A dangling modifier, as you know, is a modifier that is placed too far away from the thing it modifies. The distanced placement creates ambiguity in meaning, sometimes delightfully. But, unless you’re writing poetry, ambiguity is not really what you’re working for. And yes, a kettle is the correct term for a group of vultures in flight.
This sentence has a classic parallel structure ailment. When listing items, each verb in a list should be in the same form. This shows that all the items in the list carry equal weight. Also, Evan is disgusting and needs to learn how not to disrupt a meeting with his foul eating habits.
Nope, no punctuation here, though so many adults will insert a comma here because they learned that commas should be placed wherever there is a pause. No, that’s not how you decide. There are rules here. Am I the only one who cares about the rules? And yes, wake is the correct term for vultures feeding.
When you have an infinitive, like ‘to fall,’ you should not insert anything in between the ‘to’ and the verb. This splits the infinitive, creating a rift in the order of the universe. Please stop before it’s too late.
As everyone needs to know for daily life, this sentence is compound-complex. A compound-complex sentence can be identified by having more than one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. A prickle of porcupines can be identified at a distance.
Surely your colleague will appreciate this lesson in proper use of transition. “Nevertheless” is used to demonstrate a contrast with what came before. It’s just like the more common “however,” but it creates a more formal tone.
As all grammar whizzes know, an appositive is a noun or noun phrase that clarifies another noun. Here, the appositve clarifies who the new president is. Can you work this word into a sentence at your next social gathering?
Of course we do use the ellipsis to indicate that, you know ... But we also know that the formal significance of the three ominous dots is that something has been left out.
Any good grammar whiz enjoys a subject-verb agreement mistake, especially when it’s made tricky by a singular collective noun that describes a group, as in a band of gorillas. Since the word “band” is singular and is the noun, the helping verb “was” takes the singular form.
If only our perfect actions in the past received their own grammatical term. Alas, no. The past perfect tense refers to an action completed before something else. It seems uselessly specific, until you really need it.
Intransitive verbs are those that do not require an object. They do not do something to something else; they do something complete in itself, as in, “The woman roared.” Roared doesn’t need an object, as does a verb like “throw.” You need to throw something; you don’t roar something.
A gerund always ends with -ing, as do present participles of verbs. A gerund, though, acts as a noun, whereas present participles modify nouns or complete progressive verbs.
Please do correct anyone who calls a hyphen a dash. It is just wrong, and should be punished. It probably is, in some countries. The dash is properly used to show that more information or clarfication follows.
Direct objects answer the questions “who?” or “what?” following a verb. In this case, the fever of stingrays stung who? The boy, that’s who. Did you know you would learn so much about animal groups in this grammar quiz?
Did we get you on this one? The most common (but still misused) use of a semi-colon is to separate independent clauses when there is not a coordinating conjunction. But semicolons can be used to differentiate between items within a list. For example, “he lived in El Paso, TX; St. Louis, MO; and Louisville, KY.”
If you were to answer this correctly, you would likely be familiar with the subjunctive. Many people don’t learn about the subjunctive tense until they take a foreign language in college and have their minds blown with the grammatical complexity of language operating in the hypothetical, only to find out that it exists in English too.
That’s right. It’s time people knew that hippopotami as a collective have a perfectly apt name. The opportunity to use this term doesn’t come up often; so you’d better seize it when it comes. “It’s” of course uses an apostrophe to show a contraction for “it is” and not to show possession, like other sensible words.
According to Miriam Webster, a “lot” literally can mean a quanity used to measure, a portion of land, or an “object used in determining a question by chance.” So, it makes sense that these homonyms are easily confused—they have related meanings. Since, “allot” can mean to portion out—a task both related to portions and to chance.
Accept is the correct form here. The Latin root word here, “cept,” means “taken,” and the prefiix “ac-” means to or towards. So, the hope that a frat will “accept” you is the hope that they’ll take you in. Since “ex-” means out, If they “except” you, they’d literally be taking you out of the list. Fingers crossed!
“Between you and me” is the correct phrase here. Since the pronoun here is the object of a preposition, it needs to be objective (me), rather than subjective (I). It really helps to have the real grammatical reason when correcting someone; so be sure to remember this rule.
Even though the passive construction here is totally unecessary, the best choice given is “there.” There is used to show location; whereas the other options show possession (their) and what they are doing. Of course, all the writers are squirming with all the other ways this sentence could be made tighter. Sorry.
If you’re a negative person, you love two negative indepdent clauses strung together with the uncommon conjunction nor. It can also, as you well know, be used in along with neither, in the high-toned “neither/nor” construction that grammar whizzes love to employ. This aversion to spinach and arugula is the foundation of the next fad diet.
This tricky rule separates grammar whizzes from non-whizzes. The incorrect choice here is the one that does not hyphenate 17th century when it comes before England. The reason that this is incorrect is because the two words 17th and century are forming an adjective phrase that modifies the noun, England. When you write “England in the 17th century” on the other hand, “17th” modifies “century”, so they are not joined as a compound noun.
A colon is the correct way to introduce a list after a complete sentence. If a list is not preceded by a complete sentence, a colon is not needed. It won’t make you look smarter, more put-together, or better educated to use one.
Bane of grammar whizzes everywhere, good and well are so often confused and mangled, yet they’re so simple to differentiate. Good is an adjective; it describes nouns. Well is an adverb; it describes verbs. Talking about an action or feeling? Use well! Talking about a noun? Use good! Talking about a steak? Use caution.
This sentence is plauged by the other bane of grammar whizzes, the passive voice. The passive voice should be avoided because it deflects the action of a sentence away from the one doing the action. It makes the action seem accidental, even it wasn’t. In this case, Bernie dropped the plate on purpose, and the sentence should show that.
Contrary to student practice, there is a reason for using the semicolon to connect sentences. It’s not like seasoning, to be sprinkled here and there. The purpose of a semicolon when connecting sentences is to show that the two ideas are closely connected, so closely connected that they form one sentence instead of two.
In text speak and social media use, this rule has gone way out the window. When addressing someone, it’s grammatically correct to place a comma between the statement and the person’s name. This seems arbitrary, but it comes in handy when you need to differentiate what you mean from other options, as in the “Let’s eat Granpa” example.
The raging debate over the usefulness of the Oxford comma continues. Should we use the final comma in a series before the conjunction, or is it redundant? The classic grammar example here is the “A panda walks into a bar eats shoots and leaves” quandary. How do you punctuate this?
The progressive tense shows continuing action, and it can be found by it’s tell-tale -ing ending on the verb. Quite a different ending than the bumper sticker....although, that’s still happening, so maybe not.
The past progressive tense is formed by using the past tense of a “to be” helping verb (was/were) connected with a verb ending in -ing. Hybrid cars are the future, ok?
So few people use this rule that it’s becoming less common. Few refers to quantity and less refers to size. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Jane and Roger form a compound subject here, so the subject is plural and needs a plural verb to agree with it. Now if they could just agree on the paint color.
“The” is the only definite article in the English language. It shows that the thing being referred to is the only one. This is the one thing you should remember about this quiz.
The indirect object indicates who or what has received the action of a verb. It answers the questions “to what” or “to whom.” In this case, the child received the fright (the direct object) given by the leopards. Why the conspiracy? There must be something going on with those leopards that we don’t know about.