Prompted by an Online Quiz: Do you have perfect grammar and conventions?

Do you have perfect grammar and conventions?

No, and no.

Do you write every day?

Yes.

Do you feel you write well?

Yes.

I am writing today’s blog after taking a simple grammar test online. I knew I missed a few correct answers and still, the results gave me a 25/25.  Even though the test was not comprehensive and only questioned participants on a few easily confused words, spellings, and parts of speech, it provided no answers as to why an answer was right or wrong.  The comments following the test were interesting as well as revealing what I suspected. My perfect score was bogus. And, that means yours is likely to be too! I was not shocked or upset, just suspicious as to why I was awarded a score I did not deserve.

Grammar Test

Detect and Correct

I know I answered wrongly on several questions. I knew immediately, but in retrospect, what my error was. It’s called self-editing!  As long as one proofreads their written material, most of these obvious errors (to-too-two) (who-whom) (affect-effect), can be detected. And, if one is writing often, cares about quality, and is in the habit of proofreading their material, most of the time the errors are corrected.  It doesn’t mean I’m a poor writer to make a mistake. No, it does not.

Let’s face it. We are all human. We all make mistakes and sometimes we fail to notice one has been made – especially if one is doing a great deal of writing. But, eventually, after questioning one’s self and looking up the proper usage of a word, one will get better at grammar. It’s the old adage of practice makes perfect.

However, I do not think it’s helpful to have these grammar quizzes without an adequate explanation of the correct answer. Without the explanations, it is just ego-boosting to the participant who chooses to share their supposedly “perfect” score. And, what if they did make errors that are not explained? That person now believes they have “perfect” grammar (at least as far as what is tested) when they don’t!  I believe these erroneous and inflated results only compound the already present grammar problem that exists.

My question is this: who cares? Are you so perfect in your writing that you never make a grammatical error? I doubt it.  There is room for anyone to improve on their grammar! Yes, anyone! After taking the one test, but inaccurately doing well, I decided to look for other – more informative quizzes. I like this one on YourDictionary.com.

The reasons I like this test are: 1) It is not graded. The parts of speech are defined. You are given a question to answer, pertaining to the information provided. And, 2) The correct answer was given on the next page and clearly demonstrated the information provided. 3) It was clear (at least to me) that this quiz was more about providing information and possibly expanding one’s knowledge about grammar than about providing falsely inflated scores so one can boast on social media.  4) You can share the quiz but not the results because there aren’t any (no scores). Yes, I like the YourDictionary.com grammar quiz better than the aforementioned one.

If you write for public consumption, at some point your writing is judged. There are grammar police out there, hawking social media, and yes, this includes blogs, anxious to point out errors. However, also at some point, what one writes and why one writes becomes subjective. When you think of all the great authors (e.e. cummings, Sir Conan Doyle, and even Shakespear) who had a style slightly apart from the norm, it gives one some confidence to just continue doing what one loves – daily writing.  Some will tolerate your minor infractions with grammar and some will not. If the reader can still connect to your writing, then I would not worry too much about an occasional error.

However, I am not talking about academic writing.  When writing academically or for profession publications, one’s writing should be as clean as possible. I am just trying to state that if one loves to write, obsession with rules will not be beneficial. Write from the heart, develop and write with your own voice, have passion for which you write about, and those that follow you will excuse the occasional error. Of that, I am sure.

 

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