David Foster Wallace handed out this little gem of a grammar test to students taking a non-fiction writing workshop. It looks simple enough…..ten sentences with one crucial error either in punctuation, grammar or usage each. Amy McDaniel posted this on the HTML Giant website. If you read the answers posted by people leaving comments, you might be even more confused than when you began, but it is also quite revealing. The answers are listed late in the comments section, so read on if you’d like to know how you scored.
IF NO ONE HAS YET TAUGHT YOU HOW TO AVOID OR REPAIR CLAUSES LIKE THE FOLLOWING, YOU SHOULD, IN MY OPINION, THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT SUING SOMEBODY, PERHAPS AS CO-PLAINTIFF WITH WHOEVER’S PAID YOUR TUITION
1. He and I hardly see one another.
2. I’d cringe at the naked vulnerability of his sentences left wandering around without periods and the ambiguity of his uncrossed “t”s.
3. My brother called to find out if I was over the flu yet.
4. I only spent six weeks in Napa.
5. In my own mind, I can understand why its implications may be somewhat threatening.
6. From whence had his new faith come?
7. Please spare me your arguments of why all religions are unfounded and contrived.
8. She didn’t seem to ever stop talking.
9. As the relationship progressed, I found her facial tic more and more aggravating.
10. The Book of Mormon gives an account of Christ’s ministry to the Nephites, which allegedly took place soon after Christ’s resurrection.