The Most Common Business Usage Errors

Presented by the Business Writing Center,
training business writers since 1997

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Answer the following questions to test your understanding of 26 common business writing problems. The answers with circles permit you to select only one answer. The answers with squares permit you to select more than one answer for the question.





1. Which sentence is written correctly in American English?

a) The field name was "Employee".
b) The field name was "Employee."
c) Don't Know



2. Which sentence is written correctly?

a) We will meet with all Associates and their Managers on Monday.
b) We will meet with all associates and their managers on monday.
c) We will meet with all associates and their managers on Monday.
d) Don't Know



3. Which sentence is written correctly?

a) Their software turned out to be the best; by far.
b) Their software turned out to be the best; I recommend it.
c) Both are correct.
d) Don't Know



4. Which sentence is written correctly?

a) Give us the following data; employee addresses, employment history, and current salaries.
b) Give us the following data: employee addresses, employment history, and current salaries.
c) Give us the following data, employee addresses, employment history, and current salaries.
d) Don't Know



5. Which sentence is written correctly?

a) Come to the meeting with your notes about the upcoming convention, the marketing plans for next year and the Tooldie journal ad.
b) Come to the meeting with your notes about the upcoming convention, the marketing plans for next year, and the Tooldie journal ad.
c) Come to the meeting with, your notes about the upcoming convention, the marketing plans for next year and the Tooldie journal ad.
d) Don't Know



6. Which sentence(s) is/are correct? (Check more than one box if two or more are correct.)

a) The company has four real issues which include: increasing market share, locating a source for more labor, decreasing operating expenses, and locating a suitable CEO.
b) The company has four real issues which include increasing market share, locating a source for more labor, decreasing operating expenses, and locating a suitable CEO.
c) The company has four real issues: increasing market share, locating a source for more labor, decreasing operating expenses, and locating a suitable CEO.
d) The company has four real issues, increasing market share, locating a source for more labor, decreasing operating expenses, and locating a suitable CEO.



7. Which of the following is correct?

a) The jury is at odds over the verdict.
b) The jury are at odds over the verdict.
c) Don't Know



8. Which sentence(s) is/are correct? Mark all that are correct.

a) Every manager in a business today is held responsible for his or her employees' activities.
b) Every manager in a business today is held responsible for their employees' activities.
c) Every manager in a business today is held responsible for his employees' activities.



9. Mark the following sentence(s) that is/are correct.

a) Layton Enterprises is able to provide complete tool services, and provides the services in a timely fashion.
b) Layton Enterprises is able to provide complete tool services, and the company provides the services in a timely fashion.
c) Layton Enterprises is able to provide complete tool services and provides the services in a timely fashion.
d) Layton Enterprises is able to provide complete tool services and it provides the services in a timely fashion.



10. Which of the following sentences is correct?

a) He asked, "Where is the loading dock?"
b) This product would sell better if it weren't named 'Flysoup.'
c) Both are correct.
d) Don't Know



11. Which of the following sentence(s) is/are correct?

a) I would like to see us increase production - without decreasing quality - until we match demand.
b) I would like to see us increase production -- without decreasing quality -- until we match demand.
c) I would like to see us increase production, without decreasing quality, until we match demand.
d) I would like to see us increase production--without decreasing quality--until we match demand.



12. Which sentence(s) is/are correct?

a) Printing will have to move its label to the top of the box.
b) Printing will have to move it's label to the top of the box.
c) The softwares manuals weren't included with the product.



13. Check the sentence(s) that is/are correct.

a) The shipment included 13 fewer cartons than we had ordered and was four days late.
b) The shipment included 13 fewer cartons than we had ordered and was 4 days late.
c) The shipment included thirteen fewer cartons than we had ordered and was four days late.



14. Check the sentence(s) that is/are correct.

a) After two months, we chose the shrink wrap method over using cardboard boxes.
b) After two months, we chose the shrink-wrap method over using cardboard boxes.
c) The problem was that the long, fat end of the attachment didn't match the short, narrow hole.
d) The problem was that the long fat end of the attachment didn't match the short narrow hole.
e) The problem was that the long-fat end of the attachment didn't match the short-narrow hole.



15. Mark any of the following that is/are acceptable in business writing today.

a) We try to keep the software with the boxes they came in.
b) The trucker decided to cautiously move the boxes to the other side to redistribute the load.
c) The text matched the document for which we were searching.



16. Mark the following sentence that is correct.

a) We can not allocate resources to this project and you can not require us to do so.
b) We cannot allocate resources to this project and you cannot require us to do so.
c) We cannot allocate resources to this project and you shouldn't ask us to do so.
d) Don't Know



17. Mark the sentences that is/are correct.

a) I feel badly about missing the meeting.
b) You performed very good in the presentation.
c) I did not do well on the examination because I was up all night studying for it.
d) I also performed badly because I was drinking martinis while I was studying.



18. Mark the following sentence(s) that is/are correct.

a) Freida located the data, however it was useless.
b) We concluded, therefore, that we would have to start over.
c) However, all wasn't lost because we did have the original records.
d) All are correct.



19. Which of the following sentence(s) is/are correct?

a) The company went public on January 6, 1999, and was out of business in July 1999.
b) The company went public in January, 1999, and was out of business in July, 1999.
c) The company went public on January 6, 1999 and was out of business in July, 1999.



20. Which of the following sentence(s) is/are correct?

a) After a long absence he returned to the company.
b) Against the back wall, was the panel we had been searching for.
c) When the project is finished, we will talk about another.



21. Mark the sentence below that is correct.

a) We will complete the project on time if we receive the software upgrade we need, the patches we requested, and we have a streak of luck.
b) The last experience we had taught us that we have to screen vendors more carefully, evaluate performance at milestone dates, and act as soon as we sense something is wrong.
c) Whatever can be said for the process, it still takes too long, requires too much money, and I'm not sure it will work anyway.
d) Don't Know



22. Which of the following sentence(s) is/are correct?

a) The most damaging result was him leaving.
b) We appreciated her finishing the task, but it wasn't necessary.
c) John's griping was not tolerable.
d) Whatever the problem was, me working at it didn't seem to help.



23. Which of the following is/are correct expression(s) for numbers?

a) The cost was $49.00 but the company gave us a bulk discount.
b) We found about 4,000 of the staples in a box.
c) This shipment will contain 3 million rings.
d) The salary increase came to only $.75 for most employees.
e) Don't Know



24. Below are four items in a list. Which item(s) would follow this beginning correctly:

To finish this project on time, we will have to
a) hire a qualified technician,
b) purchase the equipment,
c) John has to be assigned to it,
d) money.



25. Which of the following sentence(s) is/are correct?

a) Our requirements are, "Do not include resumes and the proposal should be no more than 25 pages long."
b) We were worried that if we allowed one proposal that was longer, others would follow.
c) We appreciate the vendor's situation, but the vendor (you) agreed to the conditions and you agreed you would deliver.



26. Which of the following sentences use(s) "which" and "that" correctly?

a) This is the company which recommended the software that we can examine when you are ready."
b) This is the company that recommended the software, which we can examine when you are ready.
c) This is the company that recommended the software that we can examine when you are ready.



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