Test Answers 1

rogersgeorge on September 6th, 2017

Back in March of 2017 I posted a writing test. If you missed it and are curious, follow this link before you go any farther.

I’d have posted the answers sooner, but someone asked me to send the test to their dad first. Well, Dad never responded, and I got distracted by other things, hence the tardiness.

So here are some of the questions. More in another post.

  1. “The technology,” he wrote, “is not limited to only aviation.”
  2. Best known of the two is Enrico Fermi, the Italian intellectual giant who escaped from fascist Italy to America after winning a Nobel Prize for his research in nuclear physics.
  3. On February 23, 1997, NBC broadcast the film in its three-and-a-half-hour entirety, uncut and uninterrupted by commercials, as per Spielberg’s request.
  4. Who do you think you match with?
  5. 1856   The Republican Party holds it’s first national meeting.  (© Ducksters.  I wasn’t going to embarrass them, but they put a copyright symbol on it. Used without permission)

And here are the answers.

  1. In English you can split an infinitive, but this sentence is better if you don’t. It should be “…only to aviation.”
  2. When you’re comparing two things, use “better.” “Best” is for when you have three or more.
  3. This one really irritates me. It’s “per” not “as per.” Per means according to, so as per would mean as according to. Nonsense. A good example of being too fancy, which, in writing, I call a pretentiousism.
  4. Everybody has trouble with “whom,” especially in questions. Turn the sentence around: Do you think you match with him? The “m” is the give-away. Whom is the object of the preposition; objective case.
  5. Arg! I can’t believe a professional writer got this wrong. It’s ITS! no apostrophe in the possessive! His, her, its.

So there’s your dose of self-righteousness for the day. You knew all those, right? If you didn’t before, go take the test.

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Another Whom Post

rogersgeorge on January 28th, 2017

Just because I think it’s funny. Thanks, Scott.

Remember (I hope) “whom” is for whenever you need it as the object of a preposition or the subject of an infinitive. Even if it’s the first word in a Question! Harrumpf.

Kudos to The Washington Post

rogersgeorge on December 25th, 2016

An editorial datelined Dec 19 in The Washington Post had this headline:

Should the electoral college stop a Trump presidency? Depends whom you ask.

Good for them—they got “whom” right! I don’t particularly care what the article says (in fact I didn’t read it), but they got their English right! woo hoo!

Okay, while I’m praising people, here’s one about a kid who still believes in Santa Claus. He got both your and you’re right. Third cell:

I suppose he could say he’s as good as The Washington Post.

An Interesting Comment

rogersgeorge on May 21st, 2016

I hardly ever get comments to this blog, but I posted a link to one of my posts on Google+ the other day, and a friend made a comment that’s not only worth repeating, but it deserves a post! Go follow the link if you want to see the cause for the comment. Here’s his comment:

I think I get it right most of the time…but still have a hard time saying, “Whom do you think you are!?”….the other thing you taught me and I keep forgetting is where the quote marks go in a sentence…not sure I got it right above…

Lorin Walker (a former boss, by the way, and still a friend) says he has trouble saying “whom do you think you are?” Well, he should have trouble saying that, but not for the reason he thinks! We usually put the subject first in English, and the nominative (subject) form of the word is indeed “who.” So we’re used to putting “who” at the beginning of a sentence.

With questions, however, the subject generally doesn’t come first, the object does, and that’s where “whom” comes in. So you generally start a question with “whom.” Except for one thing: the type of verb.

Remember predicate nominatives? They look like direct objects, except they go with linking verbs (mainly some form of “to be” but also other verbs that are equivalent to an equals sign, such as seem and appear.) So in Lorin’s example sentence, the first word goes with (is the predicate nominative of) the last word, “are”! He could say “Who do you thing you are?” with impunity, and be so correct that he’d fool a lot of amateur grammar nazis.

PS: I just now saw a headline, in the Los Angeles Times, no less:

Who does your member of Congress support for president?
A sure sign that “who” is going to be considered always correct at the beginning of a sentence. Too bad, because sometimes (such as in this headline) it’s not. You can figure out why, can’t you?
PPS: Lorin got his quote marks in the right place. End punctuation goes inside if it’s part of the quote, and outside if it’s not. Except in American English, where commas and periods always go inside.

Another Battle we’re Going to Lose

rogersgeorge on May 3rd, 2016

Okay, I favor using “whom” wherever it’s grammatically appropriate. “Whom” tends to be unpopular because you have to think to use it correctly, especially when you create a sentence that’s not a basic declarative sentence. “Whom” is still useful, though. Here’s why I think “whom” will fall out of use. This is a passage from a writer whom I respect, and who, I’m sure, knows how and when to use the word correctly. (I made the incorrect words bold, in case there was any doubt.)

It wasn’t the who-drafted-who part. I know who drafted who.

I won’t cite the source because it’s not important. You can find passages like this all over the place. I think the writer decided to use “who” to fit the tone of his writing. He no doubt knows how to write a direct object, but he decided the “when” dictated using “who,” as in, “When I’m writing to fans of professional athletics, I shouldn’t regale them with stuffy grammar techniques.”

I still think using “whom” in those sentences would be a little snappier, but hey, he’s a professional and can make his own editorial decisions. (Besides, I’m more of a curmudgeon than he.) Because more professionals are doing this, I think the battle is going the way of not using “whom” at all. I’m not quite ready for it yet.

Here’s an example of someone giving in to this movement who shouldn’t have. It’s a heading on a page of a professionally written website about one of the largest companies in the world.

Who we hire

Seems inappropriate to me to go the informal route here, especially considering the international flavor of the company. If they don’t want to say “Whom we hire,” they could write something like “The people we hire.”


PS I just ran into this sentence in my company’s Standards of Ethics and Business Conduct document. They got it right!

You are responsible for ensuring that your own conduct and the conduct of those whom you observe (and, if you are a supervisor, the conduct of those who report to you) is honest and ethical at all times and complies not only with the law but also with our policies and these Standards.