Ted's Soapbox How Well-Spoken Are You?

The Internet is a wonderful tool, featuring a wealth of useful information available to anyone who is willing to hunt for it.  Many highly qualified professionals post lectures, commentaries, and other materials.  Many readers access these postings in the course of their own interests — whether they involve the stock market, the opera, mathematical recreations, or whatever.

There also are thousands of web pages with useful insights on English grammar, and I have no desire to duplicate them.  My focus is strictly on the unfortunate and frustrating fact that I must endure a plethora of misspelled words, faulty punctuation, and rotten grammar in a quest for knowledge.  Doubtless, those aforementioned professionals feel that they are reasonably well-spoken (a term I will use as including 'well-written', because spelling does count); otherwise, they surely would ask someone qualified to proofread their stuff.  Well, they mostly are wrong!  With few exceptions, these individuals commit silly errors in a variety of everyday situations.  Equally unfortunate is the fact that they get away with their folly, because most mistakes tend to go unrecognized by their equally unknowledgeable readership.

Television commentators are no better.  Most of them lack a good understanding of grade-school grammar; yet they are paid the big bucks to speak to others.  Go figure.  Sportscasters collectively either have forgotten that sentences contain verbs, or they feel that it is cute to suppress them; either way, they are incorrect.  At least speakers don't have to worry about spelling.  Writers, however, have even less excuse for making most errors, because they are not required to perform spontaneously.


I present examples of idiocies frequently encountered in modern speech and writing, in the form of a quiz.  Do you consider yourself a well-spoken person?  See how well you fare on the following questions.  There is nothing fancy here, just common words and sentence structures — sixth-grade stuff.


With just one exception, each of the following sentences contains at least one error in spelling, punctuation, or grammar.  Can you identify the mistakes?

  1. The newly renovated home was expensive; but it's features justified the cost.
  2. The answers to this quiz infer that many writers have little pride in there work.
  3. Are we supposed to faithfully accept everything that the media says?
  4. Carry out your recently-assigned duties, irregardless of the consequences.
  5. Sometimes the existing set-up is better than its alternatives.
  6. The payment on our newly acquired mortgage consists of 20% principle and 80% interest.
  7. The supervisor instructed Carl and I to backup the computer network.
  8. It's alright to play the piano poorly as long as no one is around to hear you.
  9. In order to insure the boss's respect, I decided to forego an optional vacation.
  10. That's a real good idea; it won't effect the company's image.
  11. If the strike would have been avoided, the cargo that laid on the docks would not have perished.
  12. It looks like the Jones's are hosting a party.
  13. The highly regarded committee was content to rest upon its self-evident laurels. 
  14. Where is that information coming from?
  15. I'm interested to know whether the stock market will go down for awhile.
  16. San Jose was the first officially designated capitol city of California.
  17. The Federal Reserve has lead our economically inept politicians down the garden path.
  18. Antiques are popular collectables.
  19. The status of our credit induced economy involves a number of complicated factor's.
  20. The heavily laden truck was involved in a near-fatal accident.
  21. Some shoppers feel that saving 10% off an item's price is not that big of a deal.

When you have finished, turn the page for the answers.
(hint: there are 30 errors; so go back and find some more)


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