Writing Test


Last time, I asked the question: “Are students prepared for college work?” I concluded many are not—and offered ten remedies for fixing the problem, one of which is making sure that every high school graduate has mastered the rules of basic English.

This week, then, is the perfect time for another one of the writing “tests” I run several times a year. The sentences below contain common errors made in writing and speaking. Actually, some were taken from our politicians. I know there was considerable “fact-checking” during the recent campaigns; I did some “grammar” checking of my own! These are composite examples I put together from errors I came across repeatedly. See how many mistakes you can identify.

n I strongly object to the president making that political appointment.

n This candidate graduated Hofstra University 20 years ago.

n A large group of angry protesters are stationed in front of the White House.

n Each of the candidates brought their own ways of doing things to the campaign.

n The attorney generals in five states have endorsed that proposal.

n None of the candidates are going to address the topic of gun control.

n There is no question about it; by far, he is the stronger of the four candidates running for office.

n The televised debate between the three candidates drew more than two million viewers.

n That television debate was widely watched, however, more people tuned in during last year’s debate.

nThat debate was watched by less people this year than last.

Here are the answers.

n The first sentence contains a very common error. In this case, the writer (or speaker) is not objecting to the person; rather he’s objecting to the appointment. Therefore, add an apostrophe and make it possessive: “the President’s making...”

n I’ve included this common error before. The school does the graduating-- not the graduate. Hence, “the candidate graduated from Hofstra University.”

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