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We be English Geniuses, y’all!

Posted by Richard on February 9, 2006

OK, so I see this post on Eric’s Grumbles about a "Commonly Confused Words" test he took (he scored "English Genius").

Well, heck, I figure, I are a tech rider and he am an injun ear, so I shud beet him.

So I tuck the test. And I dun did beet him. Bearly (93% Expert vs. 86):

English Genius
You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 93% Expert!
You did so extremely well, even I can’t find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don’t. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you’re not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog:

My test tracked 4 variables

How you compared to other people your age and gender:

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You scored higher than 50% on Beginner
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You scored higher than 37% on Intermediate
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You scored higher than 63% on Advanced
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You scored higher than 79% on Expert

Link: The Commonly Confused Words Test written by shortredhead78 on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

It took me a minute to figure out the age and gender comparisons. I scored 100% on the Advanced questions, and that’s higher than 63% of test-takers of my age and gender. So, the remaining 37% of my cohort also scored 100%.

Hmm. There’s an anomaly in the results: only half of my age/gender cohort got all the Beginner items right, but nearly 2/3 got all the Intermediate items right. So, either the Intermediate items, on average, are too easy (or the Beginner items too hard), or the sample size is too small. Probably the latter; I suspect I’m well into the tail of the age distribution.

I missed one of the ten expert items (that’s 93%, not 90%, because some answers are worth 2 or 3 points). It involved a distinction between farther and further that’s tripped me up before.

It’s a pretty good test. I only had one quibble about a test item. You’re asked to fill in the blanks (from among the multiple choices) in this sentence:

The salad is tasty__ however, the soup tastes even __________.
a. : / best
b. : / better
c. ; / best
d. ; / better

Even if you choose the correct answer, however, there’s a problem with the sentence. However you fill in the blanks, the sentence bothers me. Do you know what I’m talking about?

This will mark me forever as an old prescriptivist fuddy-duddy, but I like the old William Strunk (later Strunk & White) rule about however: when used to mean nevertheless or on the other hand, it shouldn’t come first in a sentence or clause. As an interjection (my first sentence above), it’s OK. But you should only start a sentence or clause with however when it ‘s used as an adverb meaning in whatever way (my second sentence above). I’d rewrite the test item as:

The salad is tasty__ but, the soup tastes even __________.

Using but instead of however also satisfies the old rule that you should never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice.

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