May 5, 2014 | Barb Carr

Career Development: Are You Adverse or Averse to Grammar Tips?

Grammar – love it or hate it? If you are averse to learning grammar tips (“averse” means you dislike them … “adverse” means unfavorable, like “adverse weather”), this post won’t be too painful.

In fact, this quiz may make you feel smarter once you refresh your knowledge, and will also help you give a better impression in the workplace.  And if you feel pretty good about your grammar skills, take the quiz as a quick brainteaser to flex your grammar muscles!


Quiz: Ten Words That Are Commonly Used Incorrectly

Fill in the blank (the answers are at the bottom of the post):

1. When it comes to company culture, we all share the same [principles | principals].

2. [Whose | Who’s] laptop is this?

3. We want to [ensure | insure] that this mistake never happens again.

4. Why did you [imply | infer] at the meeting that I would not be receptive to your idea?

5. Root cause analysis training [complements | compliments] his college degree for a quality engineer position.

6. This candidate has a college degree but that [criteria | criterion] alone does not qualify him for this position.

7. There was a small [number | amount] of people at the staff meeting.

8 I hear that [alot | a lot].

9. [It’s | its] exciting to know that the next Global TapRooT® Summit is scheduled in Las Vegas.

10. The marketing campaign did not [ellicit | illicit] the response we were hoping for.


1. Principles. “Principle” usually means a standard or rule; “principal” often refers to a person but can also mean first or foremost i.e., “the principal quality we are looking for is trustworthiness.”

2. Whose. Who’s is a contraction for “Who is” – “Who is laptop is this?” doesn’t make sense.

3. Ensure. Ensure means to guarantee. Insure usually refers to financial or insurance policies, although some stylebooks say they can be used interchangeably.

4. Imply. The speaker implies; the listener infers, i.e., “He implied that I was dishonest, at least that is what I inferred from our conversation.”

5. Complement. To complement means something goes nicely with something else. A compliment is something nice you say about someone.

6. Criterion. Criterion refers to one item; criteria refers to more than one (but as our reader pointed, sometimes is used to refer to one item).

7. Number. Number is used when you can count the number of things. Amount is used when you can’t count it in numbers. (“He had a huge amount of contempt for anyone who tried to teach him grammar.”)

8. A lot. Two words. Always.

9. It’s. “It’s” is a contraction for “it is.”

10. Ellicit. Ellicit means to coax, illicit means unlawful or illegal.

How did you do? Comment below!

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