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Nothing can bring down a beautifully written sentence quite the way a misspelled word can. So today we are presenting the first in a series of intermittent
True, there are many other spelling tests available online. But can you trust them? The Internet, for all the blessings it bestows, is a compulsive fibber
that wants you to believe that toilets in Australia flush backwards.
We checked five online spelling sites, and three were above reproach. As for the other two, one introduced itself like this: “These lists include 540
of the most frequently misspell words …” Would you have confidence in a spelling website that misspelled misspelled?
The other errant site offered a quiz which claimed that “inflammation of the membrane of the brain” is spelled “meningitas” (should
be meningitis) and that “a precious stone of a sky-blue color” is spelled “turquiose” (the correct spelling is turquoise, it’s a semiprecious stone, and it’s sometimes green).
Admittedly the sample size was small, but two fishy spelling websites out of five convinced us that we have an obligation to do this right. Our quizzes
will be, above all, practical—no snob words or technical jargon.
So let’s get started, and no fair peeking at the answers just below …
1. The ___ in our county fought in two wars.
2. Good dental ___ prevents tooth loss.
3. This is a suggestion ___ of pure frustration.
4. I think that $50 bill is ___.
5. The board voted to ___ new standards in language arts.
6. She witnessed the incident ___.
A) first hand
7. ___ lights are ideal for kitchens.
8. I hope you’re feeling ___ about our agreement.
A) all right
9. I will let you know tomorrow, ___?
A) all right
10. Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired by Mahatma ___.
1: C) sheriff
2: A) hygiene
3: A) born. The suggestion is born of (i.e., springs from or is created by) pure frustration.
4: B) counterfeit. An exception to “i before e except after c.”
5: C) adopt
6: B) firsthand. The 1969 Random House American College Dictionary lists first-hand, but by 1980, the American Heritage
dictionary, with its panel of experts, had it firsthand—one word with no hyphen. That is the standard spelling today.
7: C) Fluorescent
8: A) all right. The phrase all right has warded off alright for countless decades. Despite the fiercest efforts of the
semi-educated, alright remains unacceptable across the board in serious writing.
9: A) all right (see 8)
10: B) Gandhi
Because of the e-newsletter’s large readership, please submit your English usage questions through GrammarBook.com’s “Grammar Blog.”
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We reviewed and strengthened every quiz on our website to ensure consistency with our rules and guidelines contained in the eleventh edition of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.
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If these newspaper headlines found circulating the Internet are authentic, they surely demonstrate an absence of thoughtful editing.
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.