Sound Smarter—Grammar Guru’s Greatest Guidelines

 

Instructors: Download PDFs of the exercise and key at the end of the post.

Correct language use is one of the best ways to show an employer you are ready to contribute to an organization. Below are explanations for five of the most common mistakes the Grammar Girl, aka Mignon Fogarty, addresses on her often-quoted website, Quick and Dirty Tips. Use the sentences that follow the explanations to test your understanding of these confusing usage problems.

  1. Who vs. whom

A simple way to choose the correct pronoun is to change the clause needing who or whom into a question and then insert he for who and him for whom. If the sentence would use him, use whom. A mnemonic device to remember this trick is to note that both him and whom end with m.

EXAMPLE: To whom should the package be addressed?

The package should be addressed to him. Therefore, the correct pronoun is whom.

  1. E.g. vs. i.e.

E.g. is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase meaning for example, whereas i.e. is the stand in for in other words. To remember this confusing set of abbreviations, think of e.g. as example given and i.e.as in essence.

EXAMPLE: Use numerals for entering your birthdate, e.g. 05-13-1996.

  1. Anyway vs. anyways

Anyway is the only correct word and is often used to confirm a point. Using anyways is simply wrong and exposes the user’s unsophisticated language use.

EXAMPLE:  Anyway, we are here to support the transition, so please write to us at help@editing.com with any concerns.

  1. Effect vs. affect

Effect is a noun that most often denotes a result. When used as a verb, affect frequently suggests influence. When used as a noun, affect refers to manifestations of emotions.

EXAMPLE: Poor management has a negative effect on employee morale.  Effecting change is difficult when workers resist new workplace initiatives.

EXAMPLE: The marketing campaign’s objective was to affect (v.) consumers’ emotions so they felt a need to purchase the product. The manager’s low affect (n.) was difficult to read.

  1. Alright vs. all right

Alright is never correct and should not be used in professional communication. The only acceptable choice is all right.

EXAMPLE: It is all right to use an electronic signature on the form.


Circle the correct word in each sentence. Be prepared to discuss why you chose that answer.

  1. A recent survey noted the many affects/effects of the proposed changes to the organization’s health care plan.
  2. We will consider all candidates whose applications are complete—e.g./i.e. include a résumé, letters of recommendation, and writing samples.
  3. The problem was resolved anyway/anyways when the IT staff rebooted the system.
  4. The interview was alright/all right, but the candidate’s writing samples failed to impress the hiring committee.
  5. Telecommuting provides employees with a valuable perk, e.g./i.e. flexibility to choose when to complete work.
  6. No matter who/whom is selected, someone is bound to be disappointed.
  7. When Damian was told he was let go, his affect/effect was blank, so we were unable to gauge his reaction.
  8. By the third interview, candidates should have a good idea whether the job is a good fit, e.g./i.e. whether they will seamlessly blend into the corporate culture.
  9. Employees for who/whom childcare is an issue prefer flextime schedules.
  10. Weak writing skills can negatively affect/effect
  11. Workplace harassment training is important for all who/whom want to be considered for managerial positions.
  12. Many customers were affected/effected by the data breach.

Key to Sound Smarter—Grammar Guru’s Greatest Guidelines

  1. A recent survey noted the many affects/effects of the proposed changes to the organization’s health care plan.

      Effects. The context requires a noun that suggests results.

  1. We will consider all candidates whose applications are complete—e.g./i.e. include a résumé, letters of recommendation, and writing sample.

       e.g. The phrase requires the meaning example given.

  1. The problem was resolved anyway/anyways when the IT staff rebooted the system.

       Anyway is always the correct usage.

  1. The interview was alright/all right, but the candidate’s writing samples failed to impress the hiring committee.

       All right is the only correct form of the word.

  1. Telecommuting provides employees with a valuable perk, e.g./i.e. flexibility to choose when to complete work.

       i.e. The phrase requires the meaning in essence.

  1. No matter who/whom is selected, someone is bound to be disappointed.

Who. Ask the question, Is he/him bound to be disappointed? Only he would fit; therefore, the         correct pronoun is who.

  1. When Damian was told he was let go, his affect/effect was blank, so we were unable to gauge his reaction.

      Affect. The context requires a noun meaning the manifestation of an emotion.

  1. By the third interview, candidates should have a good idea whether the job is a good fit, e.g./i.e. whether they will seamlessly blend into the corporate culture.

i.e. The phrase requires the meaning in essence.

9.    Employees for who/whom childcare is an issue prefer flextime schedules.

Whom. Ask the question, Is child care an issue for he/him? Him is the only fit, so the correct pronoun is whom.

  1.  Weak writing skills can negatively affect/effect

Affect. The context requires a verb implying influence.

  1.  Workplace harassment training is important for all who/whom want to be considered for  managerial positions.

Who. Ask the question, Will he/him want to be considered? The only choice is he; therefore, the pronoun must be who.

  1. Many customers were affected/effected by the data breach.

Affected. The context requires a verb suggesting influence.


Sound Smarter–Grammar Guru Exercise

Key to Sound Smarter

 

 

 

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