GrammarPhile Blog

The Votes Are in, and the Winner Is …

Posted by Terri Porter   Mar 9, 2016 7:00:00 AM

award_ribbon.pngThanks to everyone who entered our proofreading quiz last week. Congratulations to Piyush Bakshi, who was the first of five respondents to answer all 15 questions correctly (of 134 total respondents). For his proofreading prowess, Piyush wins a $25 Amazon gift card … a timely salute to National Proofreading Day on March 8.

The correct answers appear in green beneath their respective question. We’ve highlighted notable results and provided a brief explanation for each answer, along with links to the blog posts in which we’ve talked about most of these very questions.


  1. The _____________ of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing in line with the aging of the population.
   incident         incidents         incidence          incidences      

As we talked about here, incidence is the number of times something happens or develops, while incidents  are unexpected and usually unpleasant occurrences. Incidences is not a word.

  1. The 15-year fixed mortgage interest rate dropped nearly ______ — from 12.5% in 1985 to 2.8% in 2012.
   10 percentage points     ten percentage points           10%           10 percent     

When subtracting one percentage from another, use percentage points. Our previous post explains that percent change is the ratio of two values, and that all the major style guides use numerals for percentages, making the first option the correct choice.

  1. Monica has wanted to be a doctor since she was _________.
   8-years-old     8-years old           8 years old         eight years old     

This one was a little tricky, because two of the answers could be correct, depending on which style guide you use. Chicago Manual of Style would dictate eight years old (and 75% of respondents agreed); AP style uses numerals for all ages, so 8 years old (chosen by 20%) is also correct.

  1. Being a half hour early for his interview, Robert milled around in the lobby ___________ beforehand.
   for awhile          a while               for a while       

Essentially, for a while and awhile (one word) are interchangeable. If for a while doesn't make sense in the context, use a while (two words). Check out our previous post on this subject for further explanation.

  1. Erica decided to skip the firm’s annual ______________ party this time.
   New Years      New Year’s           New Years'           New Year     

 The overwhelming majority (more than 80%) answered this one correctly. Find out why New Year’s is the correct answer by clicking here.

  1. _________ leaving the office without telling his supervisor landed him in hot water.
 Mark           Mark's

In this sentence, leaving is a gerund (“ing” words formed from verbs and that function as nouns). Because a gerund functions the same as any other noun, the noun or pronoun that modifies it (in this case, Mark) should be in the possessive case. We explain gerunds in a lot more detail here.

  1. The CFO, __________ by the company’s dismal performance the past three quarters, remained remarkably upbeat in presenting her forecast for the coming year.
 nonplussed         unfazed    

Nonplussed is one of those words we so often see misused. But more than 80 percent of our respondents got this one right. For an explanation of how to use nonplussed correctly, click here.

  1. Because his supervisor was less than clear, Fred didn’t immediately catch ______ the fact that he’d just been fired.
 onto         on to   

Because catch on (meaning comprehend) is the verb in this sentence, on has to stand with catch and apart from to. If figuring out when to use on to vs. onto perplexes you, find some hints here for distinguishing the two.

  1. The judge sternly scolded the defense attorney, saying, “It’s not _______ this is the first time you’ve shown up late to my courtroom."
 like         as if    

Although like as a conjunction is acceptable in casual conversation and informal writing, as if is the preferred choice in formal writing. Click here to learn more.

  1. Two days after presenting our pitch to upgrade ABC Company’s network, ABC’s president called to tell ____________ that the board had decided to award the contract to another vendor.
 Leslie and I           Leslie and myself               Leslie and me   

Our repeated harping on the proper use of pronouns has paid off! Or maybe the more than 90 percent of respondents who answered this question correctly just really know their stuff. If you’re still not sure why Leslie and me is the correct answer, click here for some stimulating reading (no, really) on pronouns.

  1. Princely Estates offers __________ luxury accommodations, stunning views and unparalleled fine dining.
 premiere       premier    

Premiere is the first showing, or debut, of a movie, performance, exhibit, etc. When describing something that’s the best of its kind, use premier.

  1. Many snowbirds from __________ states spend their winters in the Southwest.
 Northern       northern    

This was another tricky one because either answer is correct (a grammatical “gimme” of sorts), again depending on which style guide you consult. AP would capitalize it; Chicago Manual of Style would use the lowercase version. In keeping with the seeming preference for Chicago Manual evidenced in question 3, nearly 80 percent of respondents picked northern. Our previous blog post explains the reasoning for this and similar geographical/directional distinctions.

  1. You’ll be able not only to target the best-performing channels, but to see what your most engaging messages are (____, faith-based vs. convenience vs. program-specific vs. brand).
 e.g.         i.e.    

As we pointed out in another blog post, i.e. means “that is,” while e.g. means “for example.” Remember “for eg-zample” to equate e.g. with examples.

  1. The hospital _____________ 12 departments and several multidisciplinary practice groups.
 comprises          is comprised of

This question tripped up respondents more than any other — more than 60 percent answered it incorrectly. One way to remember the correct usage is this: If you can’t substitute include for comprise, you’re not using comprise correctly. Find a more detailed explanation here.

  1. Whether a majority of Republican voters _______ Donald Trump electable remains to be seen.
 deems       deem

Respondents were nearly evenly split on this one, with 55 percent choosing deems and 45 percent selecting deem. Majority is a collective noun, which means it can be either singular or plural, depending on the context. Be sure to check out our blog next week for an explanation of why deem is the correct answer to this final question.

Thank you again to those who participated. Remember ... every vote counts! Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions.


Topics: proofreading quiz answers, proofreading quiz

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