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Can You Find The Errors? Try These Error Quests

Each of the three short passages below has one error. Can you find all three? Test your skills.

Passage 1:

I just saw the schedule for the conference, and I am frustrated because Caren and Priya’s presentations take place at the same time. If I attend Caren’s, would you attend Priya’s session? That way we could support both team members.

Passage 2:

Jerrod and his team are making good progress on the project. They have met all the project milestones, and beta testing has begun. Jerrod’s leadership and expertise has continued to motivate everyone.

Passage 3:

Syracuse, Rochester, and Albany, New York are listed among the best cities to live in the United States. One of the strengths of all three cities is the short commute time–less than 25 minutes each way.

How did you do? Before scrolling down to compare your corrections with mine, check to see whether you found the same type of error I found. Passage 1 has an error in the use of the possessive form. Passage 2 contains an error in subject-verb agreement. And Passage 3 has a punctuation problem.


The incorrect possessive form appears in the first sentence in Passage 1. The correct possessive would be “Caren’s and Priya’s presentations” because each woman has her own presentation. If they shared the presentations, they would share the apostrophe (“Caren and Priya’s presentations”). However, since they don’t share the presentations, they should not share an apostrophe.


The subject-verb agreement error in Passage 2 is the word has in the last sentence. The sentence needs the verb have to match the compound subject “leadership and expertise.”


A comma is missing from Passage 3. The opening sentence needs a comma after New York. When you use a city-state unit in a sentence, you need commas before and after the state, not just before it.

If you might want to take a punctuation or a proofreading course, try my Punctuation for Professionals or Proofread Like a Pro. You can try each one in a free trial.




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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

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