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I can't say I'm really surprised that Dick has had trouble finding candidates who are familiar with grammar rules etc. If education in the US is anything like here in the UK there was a phase when grammar wasn't taught at all (minimal at least). I fell into that category and would probably 'fail' at least some of his questions. I can write good (even grammatically correct!) English but would be hard presses to explain the WHY of some of it. I was lucky, I did Latin for 4 years and picked up a lot of grammar from that. My wife's a teacher and it seems that the teaching of grammar is back in style again. I had what I consider a 'good' education and feel sorry for others in that era who weren't as lucky.
Information from a Learning and Skills survey last year by the Dept of Education and Employment made for depressing reading, for example:
One in five adults are functionally illiterate (given the Yellow pages they couldn't find the page devoted to plumbers)
Nearly half of all adults have numeracy levels below that expected of an eleven year old
One third of all adult workers have no qualifications at all
Half of skill shortages are related to a lack of technical and practical skills (yet only 3% of employers were increasing internal training!)
PS I can highly recommend a book by John Kirkman called Full Marks: Advice on Punctuation for Scientific and Technical Writing. Covers all the basics (apostrophe, caps, colon, comma etc)
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