Business writing quiz: Ta Da! The answers …

After last week’s questions, here are the answers you’ve all been waiting for … and scroll down to find the winner!

Business writing quiz: Ta Da! The answers ...

Here are the answers!

All correct answers are shown in bold type…

Which of the following sentences use correct grammar?

1.   I would have gone in his place, but he insisted that he was well enough for work. Correct. 

2.   The report that I’ve wrote should be ready for our meeting tomorrow. Wrong – “wrote” is the past tense of “write,” whereas here we need the past participle – I have (I’ve) written.

3.   We really shouldn’t of been so argumentative with that new supplier. Wrong – should be “shouldn’t have been…”

4.   Me and my manager drove to Bristol to see the HR team at Head Office. Wrong – take out “and my manager” and you have “me drove to Bristol…” Should be – “My manager and I”

5.   It looks like it’s down to you and I to sort out this delivery problem. Wrong – again, take out the other person, “you and” and you have “it looks like it’s down to I …” get it? Should be “you and me.”

6.   The property comprises 3 bedrooms, a family bathroom, lounge/diner and kitchen. Correct! But all too often people write “comprises of.” It never “comprises of,” although it might “consist of.” 

Which of the following sentences use correct spelling?

7.   He will be on leave next week, apparantly. Wrong: it’s apparEntly.

8.   Here are some appropriate perimeters to use to judge the results. Wrong, believe it or not. People have been saying “parameters” for years now yet that word is essentially a mathematical term, although through its misuse it has become acceptable in the US as an alternative to “boundaries,” as you can see here. However perimeters, meaning boundaries, is the more appropriate choice.

9.   Her car is in the workshop today to have its breaks done. Wrong. “Breaks” is a homophone for “brakes” which is the correct word here. Were she to have experienced “breaks” in her car it would need to be in the workshop for a lot longer…

10. The CEO paid Maureen quite a nice compliment about her work today. The CEO got it right. However many people confuse “compliment” with “complement,” which means a completion of some sort.

11. Irregardless of how late we need to stay on, we must complete this report today. Wrong. Believe it or not, there is no such word as “irregardless,” although Dictionary.com rather kindly includes it as a “maybe.” When you think about it, it’s a double negative. Use “regardless” or “irrespective” instead.

12. Wow! Did you see that flash of lightening? Wrong. “Lightening” is what happens when you make something lighter. “Lightning” is what you get in a thunder storm.

Which of the following sentences use correct punctuation?

13. It’s only a matter of time before someone collides with the new fencing. Correct. “It’s” is the contraction of “it is.”

14. Womens’ and mens’ clothing are on the second floor. Wrong. “Women” and “Men” are plural nouns already without needing an “S” or “ies,” so they just need an apostrophe S to create the possessive. Hence “women’s” and “men’s.”

15. We need to submit those figures to the Board in 3 day’s time. Wrong. “day” is singular, so to create the plural you have to add an “S” – so the apostrophe goes after the “S.” 

16.  The ladies’ room is just down the corridor to your right. Correct. You have to create a plural form of the word “lady,” i.e. “ladies…” so the apostrophe goes after the “S” as with number 15 above.

17. We need to buy more staples, printer cartridges and copier paper. Tricky one, this. In the UK, this is correct. But in some North Americans’ opinion, there should be the “Oxford comma” (ironic considering that it originated in the UK) after the word “cartridges. I have considered this one to be correct though. And if you want chapter and verse on this topic, have a look at this video which outlines it pretty well…

18. He looks very ill, we need to phone his wife and ask her to take him home. Wrong; there are two distinct clauses here and they need a stronger punctuation mark to separate them. A semi-colon would do, but a colon would be even better.

Which of the following sentences use correct syntax?

19. Speaking as a professional, I would suggest you consider a lawsuit. Correct. “I” was speaking as a professional.

20. After giving a rousing speech, the entire audience applauded the CEO. Wrong. The entire audience didn’t give the rousing speech. Try “The entire audience applauded the CEO after s/he gave a rousing speech.”

21. Dressed smartly with stunning jewellery, the Chairman was pleased to escort her to lunch. Wrong. Here we have to assume the Chairman was not wearing stunning jewellery. Try “As she was dressed smartly with stunning jewellery, the Chairman was pleased to escort her to lunch.”

22. Even though it was raining, he managed to walk between the buildings and stay dry. Correct. He managed to walk between the buildings and stay dry despite the fact that it was raining.

23. The Chairman was accompanied by the Vice-Chairman holding the trophies and the CEO. Wrong. Unless he was incredibly strong, the Vice-Chairman probably couldn’t manage to hold both the trophies and the CEO. All you need is a simple comma … The Chairman was accompanied by the Vice-Chairman holding the trophies, and the CEO.

24. Mary Johnson, the HR Director, towered over President Obama wearing very high heels. Wrong. I have never seen President Obama wear very high heels. Try “Wearing very high heels, Mary Johnson, the HR Director, towered over President Obama.

And the winner is …

Earl Hunt of EMCWS.com, in Catonsville, Maryland (near my favorite city of Baltimore … many happy memories in Towson!)

Earl got 6 out of the total 8 correct sentences and although he tied with another contestant on 6 correct answers, the other contestant included a much larger number of wrong answers.

Interestingly enough no-one got number 6 – The property comprises 3 bedrooms, a family bathroom, lounge/diner and kitchen. Correct! But all too often people write “comprises of.” It never “comprises of,” although it might “consist of.” 

Anyway many congratulations Earl, and thanks to all of you who “had a go,” as they say here in England.

What can we take away from this quiz? Well if nothing else, we can reaffirm that the English language is eager to bite us on the ankles with its irregularities and absurdities when we write for business … so watch out, if you want to maintain your professional image.

Please share your comments/thoughts/questions…

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