Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz #20

Though careful reader Robin correctly pointed out a spelling error in the headline of another Dr. John post (She’s right, it’s “dollop” not “dollup”), she didn’t weigh in on Quiz #19.

Can’t blame her, it was tricky. There’s a middle pedal on the piano that makes the music soft. It’s called the “soft pedal.” A noun. We need the verb form, and that’s written with a hyphen: “to soft-pedal” means to downplay or make less obvious.

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz # 20: Careful writers (and Shakespeare fans) can you spot the glaring grammatical error in this sentence? “If you want to gild the lily, you could add herbs or minced garlic to the cheese layer.”

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz #19

Grammar Quiz #18 was a tough one. Only Clarice from Santa Barbara was able to nail it. It centers on a redundancy that is often overlooked, even by the most careful writers. The problem lies in the construction, “reason is because.” The sense of “because” is already in the sentence in the word, “reason.” Using them both is redundant. (This is the only thing I remember from my eighth grade Business Communications class.)

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz #19  Can you spot the glaring grammatical error in this sentence? “In order to ensure continued support from the forest products lobby, the corporation will have to soft pedal its connection to the environmental movement.”

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz # 18

Quiz # 17 generated some creative responses. Jenny noted, (correctly, according to the AP Stylebook) that “F.B.I.” in our example is properly written “FBI.” A brand new error is therewith uncovered. But not the main one. Garrison felt it should be “amongst” instead of “among.” According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, either may be used, but “among” is preferred. The glaring grammatical error in the sentence however, lies elsewhere. Strip the sentence down to its basic parts, take out the Gingrich clause, and you’ll see that, “Mr. Lott was . . .”

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz # 18 Can you spot the glaring grammatical error in this sentence? “Mr. Bush asserted that the reason his proposal had yet to catch on was because the media coverage of it had been overwhelmingly negative.”

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz #17

Quiz #16 contained a sneaky little word most people misuse. A “loan” is something you get when someone “lends” you something.

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz #17 Can you spot the glaring grammatical error in this sentence? “Mr. Lott, along with Speaker Newt Gingrich, were among those who signed the letter to the F.C.C”.

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz #16

Grammar Quiz #15 got a lot of interesting guesses. Garrison suggests ‘critical acclaim’ is not really a prize to be won, but something received along with the prize. A semantic hair-split that may have merit. However, the real problem lies in the “memoir that became a first-time author at age 66.” It was really McCourt who wrote the darn thing when he was 66, and subsequently won critical acclaim.

Dr. John’s Grammar quiz #16 Can you spot the glaring grammatical error in this sentence? (a tricky one.) “If he could spare the money, he’d gladly loan it to me.”

The Writer from Heck

Dr. John is in the process of collecting anecdotes from writing coaches, editors and teachers about the clients they would least like to deal with. I’ll compile this into a list I hope will help beginning writers. Sort of a, “Don’t even think about doing this.” list. any thoughts?

If you’re in any of the above categories, please send me your horror stories. Watch this space for a compilation. My personal favorite. “I can’t change it, it really happened that way.”

 Remember, truth is no excuse for fiction.

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz #15

Grammar Quiz #14 Garrison scores again, but for not quite the right reason. “May” should be “might”, he says. The reason we have a  problem is that “may have” indicates that it’s still possible they won. They didn’t. It should be “might have won.”

Dr. John’s Grammar Quiz #15:  Can you spot the glaring grammatical error in this sentence? “A first time author at age 66, McCourt’s memoir has topped the best seller list and won critical acclaim.”