Test Answers 4

rogersgeorge on September 12th, 2017

Last chance to go take the test without seeing the answers!

The last five questions:

  1. It was about 3 or 4 feet long, looked like a long piece of linguine (same color, similar width), except if you looked a little carefully, it was actually comprised of connected rhomboid like sections. [this one has two goofs, not counting that the 3 and 4 should be spelled out. Find both.]
  2. While China is beginning to assemble its own tunnel-boring machines, it still relies on critical, foreign-made components that its own industries can’t manufacture on its own. [first word should be “Although” or “Whereas,” but I’m looking for a different goof.]
  3. Clicking Refresh Catalog in the catalog, updates the usage information.
  4. The amount of tabs you have open at any one time has a direct impact on the performance of Chrome, as well as how much RAM the application consumes.
  5. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with.

The answers:

  1. Using numerals for numbers below ten is normally a faux pas in writing, but that’s not the goof I’m thinking about. They said “comprised of”! It’s “composed of” or even “comprising connected …” For shame! Talk about being pretentious, that’s it! The other goof is a missing hyphen. It should be “rhomboid-like sections.”
  2. This one is easy. “industries” is plural, “its” is singular. Make them agree: Use either “industry…its own,” or “industries…their own.”
  3. Get rid of the comma. Never separate a subject and verb with one comma. I recommend you make “Refresh Catalog” stand out, too, with a style, quotes, italic, or bold.
  4. AAK! They should have “The number of tabs” because you’re counting, not measuring.
  5. The sentence has an extra “with” at the end. Get rid of it. In other words, proofread your work. You got that one, didn’t you?

So there you have it. If you teach English know some writers, or just want to annoy your friends, you have permission to print the quiz and hand it out. Then tell them the answers, of course.

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The Courts Have Spoken: Use the Oxford comma!

rogersgeorge on September 4th, 2017

News about this item appeared in March of 2017. It’s the outcome of a court case between a dairy in Maine and the company’s drivers, and it all hinged on the Oxford, or serial, comma.

I’m pretty sure, if you are the type to read this blog even occasionally, that you know what an Oxford comma is: When you have a list of things with an “and” between the last two items in the list, the comma before the “and” is called the Oxford comma. (This applies to lists with “or” too.)

Here’s a link to the appellate court’s decision.


I don’t really recommend you bother to read it, but the gist is that the drivers were entitled to extra goodies because the last two items in a list were combined, as implied by the lack of a comma before the “and.” So the “missing” comma, even though it’s considered grammatical to leave it out, cost the company money.

Here’s the rule as I phrase it:

Without the Oxford comma, sometimes you can be misunderstood. With it, you are never misunderstood.

Since I advocate that expository should be clear, I say “Always use the Oxford comma!”

A Quine!

rogersgeorge on August 26th, 2017

Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition, recognized as “one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century.” Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure you never heard of him, but he created a stir of sorts in intellectual circles a while back because of some of the things he thought up, one of which is a type of self-referential statement. I’ve mentioned Gödel’s Proof a couple times (here and here) and his proof involves self-referential statements, so I ran into Quine’s stuff while I was studying Gödel. I think the reference to quine was in the April 1962 issue of Scientific American or Gödel Escher Bach, but I don’t remember for sure, and I don’t have a copy of either publication handy to go look.

Okay, so what’s a quine? Mainly you find them in computing circles. It’s a program that creates a copy of itself. To refer to Wikipedia again,

quine is a non-empty computer program which takes no input and produces a copy of its own source code as its only output.

But it doesn’t have to be a computer program. Sometimes you can make a sentence that refers to itself in the manner of a quine, and here I found a comic that gives us a nice example. Hey, sometimes comics are pretty sophisticated!

At least I think it’s a quine…

Someone Gets Fewer and Less Right!

rogersgeorge on August 10th, 2017

It’s even in the punchline, so you can read the whole Pajama Diaries comic with a clear conscience!

Remember the rule? With things you measure, you use “less” and with things you count, you use “fewer.”

Pajama Diaries - 08/07/2017

Two Biblical Ellipses

rogersgeorge on August 2nd, 2017

The Bible is often misquoted. I ran into a common misquote recently from a fellow who experienced a motorcycle mishap that demonstrated the wisdom of wearing “all the gear all the time,” as we responsible motorcyclists say. He ended his misadventure with

Pride goeth before the fall.

The actual verse is

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Leaving out that part in the middle is called ellipsis. Ellipsis isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I recommend you be careful with it.

And that reminds me of one of my dad’s favorite Biblical misquotes, also an ellipsis. The verse is

For the love of money is the root of all evil:

My dad says

Money is the root of all evil, and a man needs roots!

Do you have a favorite Biblical misquote? Share in the comments.