My Day Job

All writers should have at least one.  I’m an online writing tutor.  Often I feel like Thurber’s Miss Groby, but I do try not to lose sight of the forest when hacking through the thickets of comma splice, sentence fragment, and dangling participle.  (Block that metaphor!)  Sometimes I contribute to the WriteCheck blog:

Making a Scene

Sentence Fragments

Contextualizing Quotes

Pronoun Cases

Writing Critically

Defining Words

Showing and Telling

Spellcheckers and How to Use Them

Parallelism

Essential vs. non-essential (Restrictive vs. nonrestrictive)

Commas

Capitalization

O, Apostrophe, Where Art Thou?

Transitions

Arguments

 

I actually love this stuff, and I’m always learning.  If you understand the reason behind a grammar or punctuation rule, you’ll be able to write more effectively.  When we write fiction, we’re of course free to break the rules, but we need to know what they are and, in each case, why they should be broken.   Respect your tools.  That’s the ticket.  And since you already do, I’m not going to insult you with the answers to this quiz*:

1. In the sentence “Hortense was furious when the judges overlooked her rhubarb omelet,”   the underlined word is an example of which of the following parts of speech?

 

  1. participle
  2. verb
  3. noun
  4. adjective
  5. adverb
  6. none of the above

 

2. In the sentence, “Hortense vowed, ‘There will be repercussions,” the underlined phrase is an example which of the following verb forms?

 

  1. the simple future tense
  2. the present tense, passive voice
  3. the future tense, passive voice
  4. the future perfect tense
  5. the future perfect tense, passive voice

 

3. In the sentence, “As she spoke, Hortense’s face turned an alarming shade of crimson,” the underlined word is what part of speech?

 

  1. a past participle
  2. a past tense verb
  3. a linking verb
  4. a causative verb
  5. (2) and (3)
  6. (1) and (2)

 

4. Which accurately describes the following sentence: “German shepherds are great problem solvers, and basset hounds never let go of a grudge”?

 

  1. run-on
  2. fragment
  3. compound sentence
  4. comma splice
  5. (3) and (4)
  6. (1) and (4)
  7. none of the above

 

5. In the sentence, “Infuriated bassets often exact revenge days after the perceived offence,” the underlined word is what part of speech?

 

  1. past tense verb
  2. gerund
  3. present participle
  4. past participle
  5. none of the above

 

6. Fill in the blanks: “A basset hound’s ideal afternoon consists of __________ on his back in the sun with _______ tongue hanging out.”

 

  1. laying, its
  2. lying, it’s
  3. laying, it’s
  4. lying, its
  5. lying, their

 

7. What punctuation does this sentence need? “Because of the city-wide truffle shortage Chef Monsoun will be unable to prepare Coquilles St. Jacques and patrons will have to make do with Coquilles San Souci.”

 

  1. a semicolon after “Jacques”
  2. a comma after “shortage”
  3. a colon after “shortage”
  4. a comma after “Jacques
  5. both (2) and (4)
  6. none of the above

 

8. In the sentence “Coquilles San Souci” is  prepared from bizarre, literally nauseating ingredients,” what are the two underlined parts of speech?

 

  1. past tense verb, past participle
  2. past participle, present participle
  3. past tense verb, present tense verb
  4. none of the above

 

9. Which accurately describes the sentence “Basset hounds will eat almost anything, however even a basset will turn up its enormous nose at Coquilles San Souci”?

 

  1. a run-on
  2. a fused sentence
  3. a comma splice
  4. none of the above

 

10. In the sentence “On the other hand, to a discerning basset with refined taste buds, Hortense’s rhubarb omelet is the bomb,” the underlined words are what parts of speech?

 

  1. preposition, adjective
  2. adverb, indefinite article
  3. preposition, definite article
  4. none of the above

 

3 Comments My Day Job

  1. Elizabeth Hilts

    Would it be wrong of me to thank you for this? I claim to be a writer and so I ought to have a grasp of grammar. Yet I have no idea what any of the answers are. This shames and inspires me in equal parts and I will now go study my grammar textbooks.

  2. Jincy

    I’m glad you like it! And keep in mind that I’m not a grammar maven. I’m a rank amateur. But I adore this stuff, and I do think that writers need these skills. We don’t need to know all the terms, but we do require the ability to parse. Without that, our sentences can’t shine.

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