Everything you do reflects your image. So that social media post that spells “lose” as “loose,” or the thank-you letter in which the subject and verb don’t agree? Those are piddly mistakes, right? Au contraire. Your writing and communication are part of your brand, too, and people will notice. Let’s test your grammar knowledge.
1. Which is correct?
A. If you have any questions about the contract, please email Tim and I.
B. If you have any questions about the contract, please email Tim and me.
Answer: B. Although A sounds correct, it’s not. Use “me” rather than “I” as the object of a sentence. An easy way to make sure you use the proper pronoun: Read the sentence without the other name. You wouldn’t say “Please email I,” right?
2. Which is correct?
A. The new bathroom tile has been lying in the garage since Tuesday.
B. The new bathroom tile has been laying in the garage since Tuesday.
Answer: A. Merriam-Webster (REALTOR® Magazine’s dictionary of record, we might add!) explains that “lay” means to place something or someone, the object of the sentence, down in a flat position. “Lie” means to be in a flat position on a surface. The person or object—the tile, in this case— is already in that position.
3. What's wrong with this sentence?
After getting the offer letter, the bid was too low.
Answer: There’s a dangling modifier. The first clause doesn’t apply to the noun in the second. You could rewrite it as “After reading the offer letter, I recommend we counter with a higher bid.”
4. Which sentence is correct?
A. I spoke to the contractor that will fix the water problem in the basement.
B. I spoke to the contractor who will fix the water problem in the basement.
Answer: B. “Who” and “that” are frequently thought to be interchangeable. Careful writers use “who” if the subject is a person. “That” applies to things— objects, businesses, concepts.
How Did You Do?
Four right: Hey, grammar pants, want a job at the magazine?
Three or fewer: Brushing up isn’t hard to do. Check out tools like Grammarly. com, a free download, and take a few of the free quizzes online. Just search for “free grammar quiz.”