In my post on Laura Hale Brockway’s inane word-nerd quiz at PR Daily (“So that’s how they see us,” June 5), I made a throwaway remark that I could produce a better word-nerdiness quiz myself, and one reader allowed that that might be interesting.
So I descended to the crypt where I preserve my trove of sentences to see how I might challenge your ability to spot errors of grammar or usage and other infelicities. Try your hand at these specimens I have brought to light. Each of them, written by a professional journalist and passed through the transformative hands of an assigning editor, made it at least as far as the copy desk; some got as far as publication.
To spare you the temptation of scrolling to the bottom for the answers, I give you the bare sentences. Corrections, with comments, will be posted tomorrow or Monday.
1. A rapidly developing drought and unseasonably hot weather throughout Maryland has stolen the early promise of this year’s wet spring, parching lawns and gardens and raising fears among farmers of a return to the disastrously dry years of the mid-1980s.
2. Although boys do get lice, they tend to prefer females.
3. The thing that first caught my eye was a large silver cup that Charles had won for skating on the mantelpiece.
4. After he died, Bates identified the body as the man who had claimed to be John Wilkes Booth.
5. Stopped at the light at Saratoga Street, a man in a Cleveland Indians hat crossed in front of her like a black cat.
6. The train tracks are believed to be part of the Underground Railroad by which slaves found their way to freedom.
7. The old expression, it’s like trying to turn around the Queen Mary, no longer holds. While it’s 100 feet longer than the original ship, this one turns on a dime, thanks to three thrusters. In no time flat the ship turned 90 degrees, going from a horizontal position between two piers into a vertical one ready to head into the berth, with the ease of a kid twirling a toy boat in a bathtub.
8. The world’s largest spice producer, insulated by an armor of takeover safeguards adopted this summer, is sitting comfortably on the sidelines awaiting the fallout from the takeover free-for-all embroiling the nation’s food industry.
9. Joseph Fewsmith, an expert on the Chinese leadership at Boston University, said, only half jokingly, “It seems that Jiang is stronger today than he was yesterday.”
10. The group included more than 100 informants whom CIA officials concluded had been implicated in major crimes abroad, including killings, kidnappings and terrorist acts — and who also provided inadequate intelligence.