Grammar 101: Test your PR writing skills with eight quick questions
October 14, 2014
 
Whether you are writing blog posts, pitches, press releases or bylines, it’s important to be as error-free as possible. Typos, grammatical mistakes and convoluted writing will likely confuse your reader, and possibly even turn him off from your content entirely, discrediting any authority you might have. Take our quick quiz to test your knowledge and perhaps pick up a few PR grammar tips to apply to your next writing assignment.
  1. Which is correct?
    • Jill prefers environmentally friendly cleaning products.

    • Jill prefers environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

Correct answer: a. When combining two adjectives or adverbs to describe a noun, you do not need a hyphen if the first descriptor ends in “–ly.”

  1. Which is correct?
    • Everybody is entitled to their own opinions.

    • Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion.

Correct answer: b. “Everybody” is singular, so the corresponding pronouns should also be singular. “His or her” can get clunky, so feel free to use a male pronoun some of the time and a female pronoun the rest of the time.

  1. Which is correct?
    • Jack only eats beef, which is grass fed.

    • Jack only eats beef, which is grass-fed.

    • Jack only eats beef that is grass fed.

    • Jack only eats beef that is grass-fed.

Correct answer: d. To avoid confusion, you would hyphenate the compound modifier of “grass-fed” when used before the noun it describes, “beef.” When the compound descriptor comes after a “to be” verb, you retain the hyphen for clarity of meaning. Unless all beef is grass-fed, then you would use “that” in this case, describing the only type of beef Jack will eat.

  1. Which is correct?
    • This check-out lane is for shoppers with less than 12 items.

    • This check-out lane is for shoppers with fewer than 12 items.

Correct answer: b. Contrary to most grocery store signs, “fewer” is correct here. You would use “less” when describing the amount of something uncountable.

  1. Which is correct?
    • Mary threw a party for Joe and I.

    • Mary threw a party for Joe and me.

Correct answer: b. An easy way to make sure you use the right pronoun here is to take Joe out of the party (sorry, Joe). You wouldn’t say “Mary threw a party for I,” so you also wouldn’t say she threw the party for Joe and I either.

  1. Which is correct?
    • Upon arrival, guests will receive a complimentary beverage, e.g., champagne, wine or beer.

    • Upon arrival, guests will receive a complimentary beverage, i.e., champagne, wine or beer.

    • Upon arrival, guests will receive a complementary beverage, e.g., champagne, wine or beer.

    • Upon arrival, guests will receive a complementary beverage, i.e., champagne, wine or beer.

Correct answer: all of the above, depending on your meaning. You would use “i.e.” or “e.g.” depending on whether champagne, wine and beer are the only beverages offered. If there are no other beverages, “i.e.” would be used, because it means “id est” or “that is.” However, if there are other beverage options, use “e.g.” because it stands for “exempli gratia” or “for example.” In regards to whether to use “complimentary” or “complementary,” are you trying to say that the drink is free or are you saying that the drink will enhance the meal? Something that is complimentary is free, but something complementary will complete something else.

  1. Which is correct?
    • Why are fashion trends from the 90s resurfacing?

    • Why are fashion trends from the ‘90’s resurfacing?

    • Why are fashion trends from the ‘90s resurfacing?

    • Why are fashion trends from the 90’s resurfacing?

Correct answer: c. You use an apostrophe to indicate there are numerals left out, but you do not need a second apostrophe at the end to show plurality. 

  1. Which is correct?
    • I would rather travel to Paris then to London.

    • I would rather travel to Paris than to London.

Correct answer: depends on your meaning. If you want to travel to London after you travel to Paris, use “then.” If you do not want to travel to London as much as you want to travel to Paris, use “than.”
 

How did you do on the quiz? Continue to improve your PR writing chops with our Press Release Style Guide.

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