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Do you know grammar good?

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Greg Peck
January 3, 2014

If you think you know grammar well, you know that I intentionally put an error in the headline of this blog. The last word should be “well” instead of “good.”

I find myself correcting people all the time. When I hear someone say “He plays basketball pretty good,” I want to reply “well.”

Too often I hear broadcasters say something like “Green Bay will see if they can beat San Francisco this weekend.” I cringe. The Packers are a plural “they”; Green Bay is a singular “it.”

Not that I consider myself a grammar expert. I'm far from it. But I do think that nearly 35 years of full-time journalism experience have provided me with a reasonable background in grammar. When people start diagramming sentences with the odd sort of terminology we rarely use, the exercise can make my head spin. But usually I know what looks right and what doesn't. As Gazette Editor Scott Angus says, us writers (oops, we writers) need to know what we don't know and then where to find the answers.

That's one thing about journalism and the writing world, as a profession or hobby—you never stop learning. I appreciate that. Many of us at The Gazette have much to learn. We work in a fast-paced business that's ripe for error, and almost all Gazette editors started our careers as reporters. That doesn't automatically make us topnotch grammarians or copy editors. We're only as good as our educational and professional backgrounds, and we continue to learn as we go along. So on Thursday, Angus sent our newsroom an email with a link to a long series of online grammar quizzes  courtesy of the American Copy Editors Society. I tried the first two, a quick five questions each, this morning.

I didn't do so hot on the first quiz. Without clicking forward to get the right answers, I grabbed a dictionary and studied the options while retaking the quiz.

I earned a passing grade (at least 80 percent) on the second quiz. I'll be taking the others from time to time in the coming days. Why not try them yourself?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.



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