On Online Grammar Quizzes – Part 2

I did well on the “grammar” quiz I wrote about in the previous post – mostly because I know prescriptive spelling rules, so my result was “Grammar Master.” The description of a grammar master reads:

“From spelling, to apostrophes, to conjugations – you are a Grammar Master! You were probably the envy of your English class as you swerved and dodged your way through the complications of grammar and the weird, wild English language. Most people really struggle with these words and phrases, but you were unfazed! You are probably the one in your social group that politely corrects everyone as they destroy proper grammar and spelling, and we respect that! (We know you are probably correcting our grammar right now.) Someone has to maintain order, right? You are a Grammar Hero! Now, share this quiz with your friends and family and let’s see if they can pass the test!”

There is so much going on in this description – the idea that spelling is grammar (it’s not); the idea that English is especially weird compared to other languages (it’s not); the idea that if you’re good at grammar you must be correcting your peers (how annoying!); the idea that you can nicely correct a peer’s grammar (is that even possible?); and the idea that maintaining prescriptive grammar rules is maintaining order (it’s the only way we can keep society civil!).alienated

Here’s what you get if you only answer 2 out of 12 questions correctly:

“You are a Grammar Rebel! For a Grammar Rebel like you, we bet this quiz drove you crazy! You are probably the one in English class that was always more worried about the “content” of your work than the “details”. Spelling, apostrophes, conjugations – who cares? You’re the one that would write a beautiful paper, only to receive a “C-” because of that STUPID GRAMMAR! Fortunately, we are Grammar Rebels too (look at this response…it would drive the Grammar Masters crazy), so we feel you! Anyway, share this quiz with your friends and family and let’s see how they do!”

Apparently, “grammar rebel” means ignoring prescriptive rules and has no mention of evolving descriptive rules. Also, rebels care more about the content of their writing than the details (unlike grammar masters?). Interestingly, the quiz authors propagate the idea that if you are bad at grammar, it does not matter how well you write, you will also be rated poorly. (Someone should have told that to Oscar Wilde.) The descriptions ends in solidarity – we’re grammar rebels, too… even though we totally made a “grammar” quiz and have made you feel stupid.

I took the quiz a third time, getting half of the answers right to see what the result would be. Turns out, 50% correct also gets you the title of “Grammar Master.” I’m disappointed that there is no middle ground between Master and Rebel. Here’s a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 9.27.57 PM


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