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Word Police by Barbara Wallraff
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Confused? Take a peek at a sample exam before you try your hand at the real thing.

Read about the new Word Police training manual, Word Court, by Word Police Commissioner Barbara Wallraff.

Join a conversation on Word Police and Word Court in Atlantic Unbound's reader forum, Post & Riposte.

Read recent Word Court columns from The Atlantic Monthly, and browse the Word Fugitives archive, in The Court Record.

Number Unit
Entrance Exam

Once you've answered all five questions, press the "Submit answers" button to have your responses scored. If you're not sure of the answer to any question, why not take your best guess? (No points are deducted for wrong answers.) You'll need to get at least four answers right to be allowed to proceed. On the next page, you will be asked a final question that you must answer correctly in order to pass the exam. (On that page, you will also find the answers to these five questions explained.)

1. Which is correct?

Word Police officers should take prides in their work.

Those who aren't proud to be Word Police officers should turn in their badges.

First
Second
Both
Neither

2. In Question 1 prides and badges

may be treated differently because one is an abstract noun and one is a concrete noun.
are parallel, and therefore either both should be singular or both should be plural.
are parallel and have to do with plural subjects, so both words should be plural.

3. Which is wrong?

None of us want to be a pest. It's just that we think communication is clearer when the language is used correctly.

None of us wants to be a pest. It's just that we think communication is clearer when the language is used correctly.

First
Second
Both
Neither

4. The sentence "The Word Police is looking for a few good people"

can be defended as grammatical, but "The Word Police are looking ... " is both grammatical and idiomatic.
is grammatically correct, and the opening screen of the Word Police Web site is wrong.
is grammatically incorrect.

5. Which is correct?

One thing that bothers Word Police officers are words that try to be plural and singular at the same time.
One thing that bothers Word Police officers is words that try to be plural and singular at the same time.
One thing that bother Word Police officers are words that try to be plural and singular at the same time.


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