Thanks to everyone who took our quiz in honor of National Punctuation Day last week. Congratulations to our winner, Samir Hafza, who gets a $25 Amazon gift card.
We inserted some really sneaky mistakes this time around — not because we wanted to trip you up, but because these are the kinds of errors we see frequently in documents that come through ProofreadNOW.com. And many are the kind that Microsoft Word (or another program’s spell-check or grammar-check feature) just won’t catch.
We’ve bracketed the original text in each example below and indicated the correct answers in green. Below each paragraph, we’ve provided additional explanations for some of the corrections, along with some links to previous blog posts for more detailed insight.
Because proofreading can be subjective, we allowed for multiple ways of fixing the errors, as long as the correction didn’t introduce another error or change the meaning of the original text. For example, in the second sentence of No. 2, both “a half-mile” and “half a mile” are acceptable corrections.
- Should athletes, pro and [amatuer] AMATEUR alike, be [submitted] SUBJECTED to out-of-competition testing for steroids? Many sport governing bodies say yes [2 errors: delete comma after say and quotes around yes]. In fact, [add comma] they assert that such testing [an] CAN occur [any time] ANYTIME and [any place] ANYPLACE — at work, home, practice, the gym, in class — [add space around dash to match the space around the first dash] for athletes ranked among the best in their sport [world-wide] WORLDWIDE. [However, athletes] ATHLETES should be aware that some medications [proscribed] PRESCRIBED to treat legitimate medical conditions could [have the potential to] enhance athletic performance and thus are [inhibited] PROHIBITED. (14 errors)
In the second sentence, quote marks around yes are unnecessary. Both yes and no are enclosed in quotations only when they are part of direct discourse, as in this example:
When asked if he agreed with the UCI’s ruling, Armstrong snapped, “No!”
In the third sentence, if “any time and any place” had been preceded by of, the words would have been correct as is, because time and place are both nouns in that instance, modified by the adjective any. But without of, the adverbs anytime and anyplace are required.
The error at the start of the last sentence escaped everyone, and it’s one we see fairly frequently. The use of “However” isn’t appropriate here because that sentence doesn’t contradict the preceding one.
- A campus police [officers] OFFICER’S arrest for murder in the death of a driver during a traffic stop raises the question of [weather] WHETHER campus police should be in the business of law enforcement at all. The shooting happened about [half-a-mile] A HALF-MILE from campus when the officer, Les Ismore, pulled over Justin Tyme for a missing front [licence] LICENSE plate. When Tyme, [whom] WHO wasn’t a student, refused to get out of the car, [Issmore] ISMORE shot him once in the head. [He] ISMORE was fired and has [plead] PLEADED not guilty. His lawyer says he feared for his life. University [p]President Marco Polo said campus officers [receive] COMPLETE a “robust” training [regime] REGIMEN, and those hired face background checks, [poly graph tests: 2 errors] POLYGRAPHS, home visits and [psychology] PSYCHOLOGICAL screening. (14 errors)
Our winner, Samir, made this observation: “Technically, when police arrest a suspect, murder may not have been established yet. That comes later by the prosecutor. Therefore, ‘for murder’ should be taken out.” He’s right, and we thank him for pointing that out.
The last sentence contains some subtle problems with word choice: One typically goes through or completes, rather than receives, a training, and at least in American English, the correct term is regimen (a regular course of action or training) rather than regime (a form of government or system of management).
Also, while most people got that polygraph is one word instead of two, few recognized the redundancy in polygraph tests — a polygraph is a noun, not an adjective, that means “a test to determine if someone is telling the truth.”
- Politicians and interested parties are at [lagerheads] LOGGERHEADS over the proposed [Fare] FAIR BEER [a]Act[;], which would provide brewers and [import] IMPORTING producers some relief from the federal excise tax. While acknowledging the appeal of the tax relief, [some parts of the act [arent’] so fair, says] Bru Pilsner, head of the Brewers Association, SAID THAT SOME PARTS OF THE ACT AREN’T SO FAIR: “Where we go different ways is that the BEER Act also gives tax relief to companies that in some cases are not making any beer here.” [ending quote mark missing] A similar proposal, the Small BREW Act, aims to [only] cut the federal [exercise] EXCISE tax for small brewers ONLY. Both bills reportedly have little [change] CHANCE of being considered unless [their] THEY’RE included in [boarder] BROADER tax reform legislation. (14 errors)
All but a few people missed the dangling participial phrase at the beginning of the second sentence. “While acknowledging the appeal of the tax relief” is hanging out all by itself, with no indication of who is doing the acknowledging.
Only one person picked up on the missing end quote mark (another common and easy-to-overlook error).
The positioning of only in the penultimate sentence proved problematic too. Some people left it as is, others moved it incorrectly and a few appropriately moved it to the end of the sentence. Check out our post on misplaced modifiers for how they can change a sentence’s meaning.
- [Nemurs] NEMOURS Children’s Hospital is part of the  650-acre medical city in Lake Nona (ORLANDO), Florida. It provides pediatric [speciality] SPECIALTY care never before offered in [c]Central Florida, along with the area’s only [24 hour] 24-HOUR emergency department designed just for kids. Our [very] unique [services] OFFERINGS include the only [peds] PEDIATRIC pain management, interventional radiology and arthritis treatment services in the region. [They] WE have pioneered innovative pediatric research, [add comma] which has [lead] LED to [break-throughs] BREAKTHROUGHS and [reduces] REDUCED suffering for our young patients and THEIR families. Our board-certified specialists have come from top hospitals across the [county] COUNTRY because they share our desire to create a pediatric health care facility that empowers patients and [they’re] THEIR caregivers. (17 errors)
A number of entrants corrected the hospital name, a couple added “Orlando” and no one caught the transposed numerals in the first sentence above. That might not be something you’d ordinarily check, but in this context, which appears to be marketing copy for the hospital, you want to make sure you get facts about the institution right. Check out our recent post on the scope of fact checking here.
Because Central Florida is a recognized region, it should be capitalized. “Very” at the beginning of the third sentence is incorrect because something is either unique or it isn’t — there aren’t degrees of uniqueness. Most entrants overlooked county because it’s spelled the same as country minus a letter. We encounter this kind of error regularly at ProofreadNOW.com.
- Cal Ward dodged paying his own taxes 45 times while calling [four] FOR large tax breaks for millionaires like [himself] HIM. He recently voted to give the wealthy an extra $40,000 [dollars] in tax breaks instead of giving lower-income [residence] RESIDENTS and families a much-needed [life line] LIFELINE. And while [Warden] WARD voted against our families, he consistently voted on the [sides] SIDE of big [buisnesses] BUSINESS. He stuffed the wallets of millionaires but [pitched] PINCHED pennies when it came to [woman’s] WOMEN’S clinics, improving our failing schools [&] AND helping [Calif.] CALIFORNIA families. The reason [why] you shouldn’t vote for him? He looks out for his own [whilst] WHILE leaving the rest of us behind. (14 errors)
The most commonly missed error in this paragraph was at the end of the first sentence: himself instead of him. Reflexive pronouns (those ending in -self) are used to show that the action in a sentence happens to the person or thing that does the action:
Cal treated himself to a large tax break.
See this post for more detail on how to use both reflexive pronouns and pronouns that are the object of a preposition, as in the paragraph above.
If you have questions about any of the other answers, please let us know in the comments below. We also offer an Ask the Grammar Expert feature on our website for any other grammar, punctuation or usage questions you might have. Thanks again for playing!