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Can You Correct The Grammar In These 10 Facts About The Solar Eclipse?

Like a fill-in-the-blanks exercise, but with added celestial awe.

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Uh-oh! The solar eclipse arcing across the US has blacked out the ends of these facts (look, just...go with it, OK?). Can you pick the right way to finish them from these lists of options?

  1. 1. Honolulu, 27% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...less than 30% of a Total Eclipse.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...fewer than 30% of a Total Eclipse.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...less than 30% of a total eclipse.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...fewer than 30% of a total eclipse.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    For starters, "total eclipse" should be lowercase as it isn't a proper noun. The less than/fewer than conundrum is a tricky one, but in this case the percentage isn't countable, i.e., you couldn't count individual bits of the sun like you could count each of the people lucky enough to be in Hawaii right now.

  2. 2. Bangor, Maine, 54% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...the total eclipse that the far north east saw in July, 1963.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...the total eclipse that the far Northeast saw in July 1963.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...the total eclipse which the far North East saw in Jul. 1963.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...the total eclipse which the far north-east saw in July 1963.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    "Northeast" is one word and a recognized region, so we cap it. Commas never separate a month and its year, and "July" is always fully spelled out: We don't abbreviate months that lack a specific date in front of them, and we never abbreviate months that are five letters or shorter anyway. Oh, and it's "that" (not "which") because this clause is an essential part of understanding the sentence.

  3. 3. Los Angeles, 62% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...after Hollywood stars filed a class action law suit claiming it would unlawfully interrupt their tanning regimen.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...after Hollywood stars filed a class-action lawsuit claiming it would unlawfully interrupt their tanning regimens.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...after Hollywood stars filed a class-action law suit claiming it would unlawfully interrupt their tanning regimens.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...after Hollywood stars filed a class action law-suit claiming it would unlawfully interrupt their tanning regimen.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    "Lawsuit" is one word, and "class-action" is a modifier describing it, so we hyphenate it. And it's "regimens," plural — unless all the stars in the lawsuit (yes, OK, it's made up but bear with me) share a single tanning regimen.

  4. 4. New York City, 72% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...to busy complaining about the subway or looking at their smart phones to notice the sky has gone dark in the middle of the day.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...too busy complaining about the subway or looking at there smart phones to notice the sky has gone dark in the middle of the day.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...too busy complaining about the subway or looking at their smartphones to notice the sky has gone dark in the middle of the day.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...too busy complaining about the subway or looking at they're smartphones to notice the sky has gone dark in the middle of the day.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    It's "too" busy because it's an adjective, not a conjunction, and "their" smartphones because it's a possessive usage. "Smartphone," meanwhile, is one word (although we still spell "cell phone" as two).

  5. 5. Washington, DC, 81% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...of the sky in Washington, DC or — as Senators might put it — a supermajority of the sky.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...of the sky in Washington, DC, or — as senators might put it — a supermajority of the sky.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...of the sky in Washington, DC, or — as Senators might put it — a super-majority of the sky.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...of the sky in Washington, DC or — as senators might put it — a super majority of the sky.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Since "DC" is standing in for a state here it needs a comma before and after. You should lowercase "senators" unless you're referring to a specific senator as a job title before their name. And "supermajority" (remember those?!) is one word.

  6. 6. Chicago, 87% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...popular places to watch the eclipse will include navy pier, the shores of lake Michigan and lake-front roof-top bars.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...popular places to watch the eclipse will include Navy Pier, the shores of lake Michigan, and lake-front rooftop bars.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...popular places to watch the eclipse will include Navy pier, the shores of Lake Michigan and lakefront roof-top bars.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...popular places to watch the eclipse will include Navy Pier, the shores of Lake Michigan, and lakefront rooftop bars.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Navy Pier and Lake Michigan are proper nouns, so all words need to be initial-capped (sorry, non-Chicagoans!). "Lakeside" and "rooftop" are both one word, so put your hyphens away, please. And YES WE USE THE SERIAL COMMA GET OVER IT.

  7. 7. Atlanta, 97% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...lies just outside the so-called zone of totality, which is the band across the Earth from which the moon will appear to fully cover the sun.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...lays just outside the so-called zone of totality, which is the band across the Earth from which the Moon will appear to fully cover the Sun.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...lies just outside the so called zone of totality, which is the band across the earth from which the Moon will appear to fully cover the Sun.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    ...lays just outside the so called zone of totality, which is the band across the Earth from which the moon will appear to fully cover the sun.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Easy bits first: "So-called" needs a hyphen, and "Earth" is initial-capped (as a specific reference to the planet), whereas "sun" and "moon" aren't. Now, pay attention: Atlanta doesn't have a direct object — so it "lies," whereas you would "lay" Atlanta down on a table (which you can't because it's a massive city and this is a BuzzFeed quiz).

  8. 8. Hopkinsville, Kentucky, 100% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The population of the Hopkinsville area could more than triple during the eclipse, with visitors including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevan, the director of the vatican observatory, and representatives from NASA.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The population of the Hopkinsville area could more than triple during the eclipse, with visitors including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevan, the director of the Vatican Observatory, and representatives from Nasa.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The population of the Hopkinsville area could more than triple during the eclipse, with visitors including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, the director of the Vatican observatory, and representatives from Nasa.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The population of the Hopkinsville area could more than triple during the eclipse, with visitors including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, the director of the Vatican Observatory, and representatives from NASA.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    It's Matt Bevin (with an "i"), and the Vatican Observatory is a proper noun and thus initial-capped. And NASA is an acronym, so cap up the whole thing.

  9. 9. Nashville, 100% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The zoo in Nashville, Tennessee, is asking patrons to monitor animals' behavior during the total eclipse.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The Zoo in Nashville, Tennessee, is asking patrons to monitor animals behavior during the total eclipse.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The zoo in Nashville, Tenessee, is asking patrons to monitor animals' behavior during the total eclipse.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The zoo in Nashville, Tennesee, is asking patrons to monitor animals behavior during the total eclipse.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    In this case, "zoo" should be lowercase as it's not a proper noun. The animals own their behavior, so they need a possessive apostrophe. And it's "Tennessee." If you have trouble remembering that, think of the word "tennis," but with no i and two s's and...you know what, never mind.

  10. 10. Salem, Oregon, 100% eclipsed:

    dartlab / Getty Images / Jon Allsop
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The first of 5 state capitols in the path of the total eclipse, Salem will host music and other fun activities on the grounds of its capital building.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The first of five state capitols in the path of the total eclipse, Salem will host music and other fun activities on the grounds of it's capitol building.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The first of five state capitals in the path of the total eclipse, Salem will host music and other fun activities on the grounds of its capitol building.
    Correct
    Incorrect
    The first of 5 state capitals in the path of the total eclipse, Salem will host music and other fun activities on the grounds of its capital building.
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    "Its" has no apostrophe when it's possessive (see what I did there?), and numbers one through nine should be written out (with a few exceptions) per BuzzFeed style. And finally, a "capitol" is a building where legislators meet, within a "capital," which is a city.

Can't get enough language grammar content?! Check out BuzzFeed's new book A World Without "Whom" by Emmy Favilla, BuzzFeed's global copy chief, available for preorder on Amazon.

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