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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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June 24, 2014


Marlene Braxton

Number 8 tripped me up. I focused on "professional references" as the subject. (I'm not sure how "neither" is a subject, but, that's probably another lesson!)

Thanks for this one, Lynn.


I do not believe that I have ever seen the word 'commonest' used or even heard it spoken. This caught me by surprise. In my experience, that thought is usually written as 'most common' or 'more common.' Is there a difference in the usage or is it personal preference?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Marlene. In Number 8, think of the subject as "neither one," which is what it means. If you mentally insert the "one," it will help you recognize the need for the singular verb "has."

Thanks for asking.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Laura. Good question! I debated about the choice between "most common" and "commonest." I decided on "commonest" because it is not awkward to say.

The rule about choosing between "-est" and "most" involves how awkward the pronunciation would be, along with the number of syllables in the original word. (If the original word is more than two syllables, the choice is always "more" or "most.") Because "common" is two syllables and "commonest" is easy to pronounce, I chose "commonest."

Think of other words such as "happiest" and "prettiest."

In contrast, we would not use "confusingest" or "challengingest."



Hello, Lynn.

Thank you for quiz.

I have one question about "Correct. Team is singular."

Oxford dictionary says this word can be either singlular or plural

"[treated as singular or plural]"

Did you mean team is singular in given context (if so then why?) or always singular?

- Alex

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Alex. Thank you for the question. I have added "in this context" to the answer key.

"Team" is considered singular unless we want to emphasize the team members, as in "The team live in various parts of the world." In such a sentence it is clearer to write "the team members."


Sara Rodriguez

What does one do when bad grammar, poor writing, and disjointed script writing for speakers is the norm. Editing and making changes is not necessary.

Bad writing skills reign supreme are also supported by the corporate structure that employs you, while good grammar, good script writing and good speaking skills are determined to be a distraction that slows down the process. Machiavelli in his peak?

Why should one attempt use good writing skills if they are going to be categorized as "old fashioned" and "not appropriate" for today's, "savvy" business environment?

Should the employee who has the ability to use writing and communication knowledge be demoted because it's not the norm? After all, they just studied language and look they didn't even get a two year degree, they managed some sort of upper level degree that just takes a long time and gets your no where.

In today's savvy business world, in order to survive..slang is better and using two finger typing is faster. We we have technology at our fingertips even when we aren't supposed to be using our cell phones. After all, we, unlike others, have "a life." True or false?

Should typing with two fingers be rewarded in order to replace traditional typing method, because traditional typing is a skill that must be learned while two finger typing is something that you can pick up from your classmate? Everyone knows that talking to your classmate is more fun and also socially acceptable. It's how we can prove that we can create a good rapport with the general public and the general public is our client.

The reigning philosophy is proven to be: Why bother with rules and the right way, after all being socially accepted can make me boss over those "book worms" that concentrate on how to follow the rules. And if those "old people" try to tell me differently, when I'm the boss, I can just get rid of them. It's cheaper to hire my friends and I know the corporation will go for that, after all it saves the consumer dollars and prepares for the future. It also creates employment security for the "up and coming business savvy" person.
By the way, I give away my meds on the side.

-----American Corporate Structure in a large metropolitan area, as encountered in the "real world" in the Millennium era.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Sara. My experience is that good communication skills are highly valued in the workplace.


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