Word Use Quiz

 

1.            Alliance Packaging holds some inventory for (it’s)  (its) (their) customers.

 

2.            If I (was) (were) (she) (her), I’d join the Peace Corps and wait out the bad job market.

 

3.            We need to count the (number) (amount) of parts in the plant to get a sense of WIP levels.

 

4.            When deciding where to locate a second distribution center, REI is focusing on a single decision (criterion) (criteria).

 

5.            Each person on the team should do (his or her) (their) part to make the service project a success.

 

6.            We will execute the project (regardless) (irregardless) of the weather.

 

7.            We have surveyed our customers, and the data (is) (are) surprising.

 

8.            While we were in the plant, we got the sense employee (moral) (morale) was rather low.

 

9.            There were (fewer) (less) cases of bankruptcy in November than there were in October.

 

10.         We found (alot) (a lot) of errors in the document.

 

11.         You should have (gone) (went) to the party last night.

 

12.         I recall there was a person (that) (who) declined the rebate offer.

 

13.         We’ve decided to stay out of the travel market (since) (because) demand for tourism is below historical averages.

 

14.         Would you like to purchase (these) (these ones)?

 

 

15.         Will you be available to attend the meeting with Bill and (me) (I)?

 

16.         His skills (complemented) (complimented) mine nicely.

 

17.         Recent terrorist events have made me more risk (adverse) (averse).

 

18.         We will need to choose from (among) (between) three projects.

 

19.         A person answering the telephone at a Washington Mutual help desk should say:

 

“This is Washington Mutual, how can I help you?”

“This is Washington Mutual, how may I help you?”


 

20.         How does the meaning of these sentences differ?

 

I will only loan you three books.

I will loan you only three books.

I only will loan you three books.

 

21.    Which of these is correct?

 

         Hopefully, we will complete the project before the deadline.

         We hope to complete the project before the deadline.

 

22,    When designing the new curriculum, we must consider four major (tenets) (tenants) prescribed by our advisory council.

 

23.    He is more (oriented) (orientated) toward technical issues than he is toward social issues..

 

24.    Bryce has developed effective written communication skills, but she needs to work on  her (verbal) (oral) communication skills.

 

25.    I have lost weight since I started eating (healthier) (more healthful) foods.

 

26.    We will need to take (preventive) (preventative) steps if we want to avoid serious loss in market share.

 

27.    We have invited guests (like) (such as) Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Dave Matthews.

 

28.    The project is not going well and failure seems (eminent) (imminent).

 

29.    I received a job offer from Microsoft. I feel well-qualified for the position and am (eager) (anxious) to start work.

 

30.    Which of these sounds better to you?

 

           I think that you should pursue an MBA from UW.

           I think you should pursue an MBA from UW.

 

31.    Which of these is a better sentence?

 

We should use active voice in written work.

           Active voice should be used in written work.

 

32.    What is the problem with this sentence? Can you rewrite it to correct the

         error?

 

         Having completed the project plan, it seemed to include all necessary actions.

 

 

 

Word Use Quiz Answers

 

1.            Alliance Packaging holds some inventory for (it’s)  (its) (their) customers.

 

The possessive “its” is correct here.“it’s” is always the contracted form of “it is.” Remember, you wouldn’t put an apostrophe between the r and s in the possessive ‘hers,’ so you don’t need it for the possessive its.

Not “their” because “holds” is (correctly) a singular verb. A company is a single entity. If you want to refer to a group of managers at the company, then you can use “their.”

 

2.            If I (was) (were) (she) (her), I’d join the Peace Corps and wait out the bad job market.

 

The subjunctive (“contrary to fact”, or “might be”) mood:  always “were,” not “was.”

“She,” not “her:”  forms of the verb “to be” (is, was, will be, etc.) take a subjective complement, which is in the nominative case (she), not objective case (her.) But, if you think it sounds stilted, just say “If I were Susan…”

 

3.            We need to count the (number) (amount) of parts in the plant to get a sense of WIP levels.

 

We can count parts, so “number” is correct.  We can’t count water, but we can count glasses or bodies of water: amount of water, number of glasses of water.

 

4.            When deciding where to locate a second distribution center, REI is focusing on a single decision (criterion) (criteria).

 

“Criterion” is the singular form.  For many Latin-based words, the “-a” or “-ia” ending signals a plural noun.  The singular form often ends in “-n.”

 

5.            Each person on the team should do (his or her) (their) part to make the service project a success.

 

“Each person” is singular, so “his or her” is correct, though awkward. To avoid the awkwardness of ‘his or her,’ you may simply use the plural form throughout a sentence.

 

6.            We will execute the project (regardless) (irregardless) of the weather.

 

“Regardless.”  The OED calls “irregardless” a “North American colloquial form,” meaning something those sloppy Americans would say.  It amounts to a double negative. You will label yourself as an uneducated person if you use “irregardless”. Remember, there is another word: “irrespective.” You may be confusing the two.

 

7.            We have surveyed our customers, and the data (is) (are) surprising.

 

Another Latin-based word with “-a” signaling a plural form: “datum” is the rarely used singular form. If you wish to present yourself as an educated person, use data as a plural noun and accompany it with the appropriate verb form.

 

8.            While we were in the plant, we got the sense employee (moral) (morale) was rather low.

 

Moral:  concerning ethics, matters of right and wrong, virtue and vice.

Morale:  concerning attitude, especially positive or negative; often good or high, or poor, low.  Here, the correct word.

 

9.            There were (fewer) (less) cases of bankruptcy in November than there were in October.

 

Fewer cases (we can count the number of cases), but less bankruptcy, a mass noun.

 

10.         We found (alot) (a lot) of errors in the document.

 

A lot.  “Alot” is not a word, any more than “abunch” is a word.

 

11.         You should have (gone) (went) to the party last night.

 

You should have gone.  “Went” is simple past; “gone” is the past participle, used when there are other verb elements such as “should have.”We will confiscate your degree if we hear you saying this after you graduate.

 

12.         I recall there was a person (that) (who) declined the rebate offer.

 

A person who.  “Who” preferred to “that” when referring to persons, though “that” can be used for certain groups of people, such as a team.

 

 

13.         We’ve decided to stay out of the travel market (since) (because) demand for tourism is below historical averages.

 

“Because” is better: “since” is ambiguous here.  Does “since” in this case mean “because,” or does it mean “since the time of?”  “Because” is precise, “since” is not.

 

14.         Would you like to purchase (these) (these ones)?

 

“These ones:” colloquial and redundant.  Avoid.

 

 

15.         Will you be available to attend the meeting with Bill and (me) (I)?

 

Objective case following a preposition. An easy test is to drop out all elements except the pronoun in question:  the meeting with Bill and me, the meeting with me.  “The meeting with Bill and I” may sound correct to you, but “the meeting with I” immediately sounds wrong.

 

16.         His skills (complemented) (complimented) mine nicely.

 

Complement: to complete or add to.

Compliment: to say something nice about

 

 

17.         Recent terrorist events have made me more risk (adverse) (averse).

 

“Risk averse” has become a common idiom in business conversation.  “Averse” means doesn’t like or wishes to avoid, “adverse” may refer to undesirable or negative conditions in a situation or the environment, as in “adverse weather conditions.” A person might be averse to using a particular drug because he or she has previously experienced an adverse reaction to it.

 

18.         We will need to choose from (among) (between) three projects.

 

“Between” two projects, but “from among” three or more projects.

 

19.         A person answering the telephone at a Washington Mutual help desk should say:

 

“This is Washington Mutual, how can I help you?”

“This is Washington Mutual, how may I help you?”

 

Can: concerns ability to do something. Asking the first questin would imply we want to get an assessment of our capabilities.

May: concerns permission to do something.  In this polite usage, we are seeking permission to help.

 

20.         How does the meaning of these sentences differ?

 

I will only loan you three books.

I will loan you only three books.

I only will loan you three books.

 

I will only loan you three books= I will not take any other action (modifies the verb)

I will loan you only three books=I will loan you no more than this number of books (modifies the number of books)

I only will loan you three books=incorrect because ambiguous: I will do only this one act (as example #1), or I and no one else will loan you books (modifies “I”)?

 

 

21.    Which of these is correct?

 

         Hopefully, we will complete the project before the deadline.

         We hope to complete the project before the deadline.

 

“Hopefully” means “in a hopeful manner.”  Avoid using as an introductory adverb when you mean “I hope that….”

 

22,    When designing the new curriculum, we must consider four major (tenets) (tenants) prescribed by our advisory council.

 

Tenets: points, principles, guidelines.

Tenants: people residing in a rented place.

 

23.    He is more (oriented) (orientated) toward technical issues than he is toward social issues.

 

To orient: to align or locate in terms of direction.

To orientate:  a less correct form, probably a back-form from the noun “orientation.” English speakers have a lazy tendency to form verbs from nouns (e.g., incentivize). Don’t be a lazy writer. Find a verb that works.

 

24.    Bryce has developed effective written communication skills, but she needs to work on  her (verbal) (oral) communication skills.

 

“Verbal” refers to words, both written and spoken.  “Oral” refers to spoken language.  Here, the contrast with “written” gives a clear meaning of “oral.”

 

25.    I have lost weight since I started eating (healthier) (more healthful) foods.

 

The food is more healthful, people are healthier.  So eat more healthful foods.

 

26.    We will need to take (preventive) (preventative) steps if we want to avoid serious loss in market share.

 

Preventive, preventative:  both now in common usage, no difference in meaning.  “Preventive” as a simpler, easier-to-speak form may be preferred for more fluent sentences. Some people find ‘preventative’ absolutely irritating to the ear.

 

27.    We have invited guests (like) (such as) Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Dave Matthews.

 

Are they imposters posing as these individuals, or are they actually these people? If the latter is correct, the proper word choice is “such as.”

 

28.    The project is not going well and failure seems (eminent) (imminent).

 

Eminent: of high rank or status.

Imminent: pending, about to happen.

 

29.    I received a job offer from Microsoft. I feel well-qualified for the position and am (eager) (anxious) to start work.

 

Eager: Having keen interest or intense desire.

Anxious: Feeling anxiety or trepidation.

 

30.    Which of these sounds better to you?

 

           I think that you should pursue an MBA from UW.

           I think you should pursue an MBA from UW.

 

I think you, I think that you:  “that” can be omitted if no ambiguity is created. Look at your writing. You may be surprised how frequently you use the word “that” unnecessarily.

 

31.    Which of these is a better sentence?

 

We should use active voice in written work.

           Active voice should be used in written work.

 

“Active voice should be used in written work” is an example of the passive voice.  In general, the active voice is preferred in business writing unless there is a reason for using the passive voice, such as deflecting attention from the subject of a sentence:  “mistakes were made” instead of “you screwed up.”

 

 

32.    What is the problem with this sentence? Can you rewrite it to correct the

         error?

 

         Having completed the project plan, it seemed to include all necessary actions.

 

When a subordinate gerundive clause introduces a sentence, as in this case, the implied subject of the clause must be the first element of the main clause.  Here, who or what has completed the project plan?  As it stands, the sentence is ambiguous.  If it’s you, the sentence should be:  Having completed the project plan, we felt we had included all necessary actions.  If it’s others: We reviewed their completed project plan and believed it included all necessary actions.As the sentence stands, the first element of the main clause is the pronoun “it,” which refers to the plan.  But the plan didn’t complete the plan; the sentence is nonsense. .

 

 

 

Prepared as  the basis of class discussion by Karen Brown and Roger Neale, University of Washington, Bothell K. A. Brown and R. Neale of University of Washington, Bothell developed this quiz and solutions as the basis of class discussion. We chose the particular words and sentences included in this exercise  because they represent some of the errors we see most frequently in business writing.  Professional grammarians may differ in their opinions about some of these.  Roger Neale holds a Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley and an EMBA from the University of Washington. He teaches business communication at UWB. Karen Brown holds an MBA and Ph.D in Business from the University of Washington and simply dabbles in grammar and word use.