Friday, November 01, 2013

grammar quiz

1. We greatly appreciate _____ taking the time to fill out this survey.

a. you
b. your

2. Do you mind _____ smoking?

a. me
b. my

I had to teach this grammar to my SAT students in my previous job. Most Americans get this very wrong, or are confused as to why the correct answer is correct. And while I'm at it:

3. Give this to _____ deserves it the most.

a. whomever
b. whoever

4. "As a child, French was difficult" is an example of a _____ .

a. dangling modifier
b. misplaced modifier



John from Daejeon said...

Regarding question 2, does it matter if the person is already smoking? If they already are, I'd never hear it in the first place.

Kevin Kim said...


Kevin Kim said...


Notice that both "taking" (in #1) and "smoking" (in #2) are gerunds, i.e., nominalized forms of verbs. Gerunds are, effectively, nouns, so the preceding modifiers should take the genitive (possessive) form:

1. We greatly appreciate your taking the time to fill out this survey.

2. Do you mind my smoking?

This rule isn't that hard to remember, but it might help to see some simpler, more obvious cases in which the rule obtains:

1. We greatly appreciate you gift.

2. Susan: Oh, my God. My dress is so ugly! Why did I wear this to the party?
Phil: What, are you kidding? I don't mind you dress at all!

As with "taking" and "smoking," the nouns in the above sentences are objects of transitive verbs, and it should be obvious that, by using "you" instead of "your," a rule has been violated. No one says "you dress" when s/he means "your dress." The same goes for "your gift."

Kevin Kim said...

The answers to #3 and #4 are (b) and (a), respectively.

For the rationale for #3, see this post.

For the rationale for #4, see this post.

Charles said...

Late to the party here, but a comment on #4: Of course he was difficult as a child. I mean, look what his parents named him! Can you imagine the ribbing he must have gotten?

Kevin Kim said...


Worthy of Dr. Hodges, that is.

Charles said...

Now I may die happy.