American Grammar Checkup: It’s Quiz Time Again!

I don’t know why my readers think quizzes are so much fun, but I keep getting requests for more of them. So, here are some sentences that contain goofs in word usage or punctuation.

  1. Dave really needed to hone in on his math skills last year
  2. Susan lives in Buzzards Bay, Ma.
  3. Wow, that’s a one of a kind unique piece!
  4. Did you here that Sallys getting married next weak?
  5. Adam beared his teeth in anger.
  6. We have a new and improved product to show you,
  7. Myself and jon will be at the game latter.
  8. Answering the telephone, the cat ran out though the open door.
  9. Us kids really need too study grammer!

Answers (the goofs are in bold):

  1. Dave really needed to hone in on (hone) his math skills last year (year.) To hone means to sharpen something. To home in means to aim for a specific place (think homing pigeon). There is no such term as “hone in.”
  2. Susan lives in Buzzards Bay, Ma. (Mass.) There are only two accepted types of abbreviations for states’ names: the postal one, which uses two capital letters and NO period, or the “old-fashioned” type used in running text that can be two to five letters with a period. And FYI: There are no accepted abbreviations for Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah. For a complete list of both the postal and regular state abbreviations, click here.
  3. Wow, that’s a one of a kind unique (one-of-a-kind OR unique) piece! Unique already means one of a kind, so using both the phrase and word adds nothing except noise. And we never add any modifying words to it. We never say “really unique” or “kind of unique” or, as I heard in a radio ad a few days ago, “we offer really unique one-of-a-kind products.” My brain nearly short-circuited hearing that.
  4. Did you here (hear) that Sallys (Sally’s) getting married next weak (week)?
  5. Adam beared (bared) his teeth in anger.
  6. We have a new and improved (new or improved) product to show you, (you.) A product can be new or it can be improved, but how can it be new and improved at the same time? I suppose we could say “newly improved,” though, right?
  7. Myself (I) and jon (Jon) will be at the game latter (later). Yes, normally we do say Jon and I, but the point here is that we never start a sentence with myself.
  8. Answering the telephone, the cat ran out though (through) the open door. It’s highly doubtful that the cat was answering the telephone, right? This type of construction is known as a dangling participle, meaning the words in the beginning need some clarification. The sentence should start with something like “As I was answering the telephone . . .”
  9. Us (We) kids really need too (to) study grammer (grammar)!

So, how did you do? Did you spot all the easy-to-make goofs? Do you have any questions about the answers — or any comments?

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