I am deep into grading my students' final exams and revised papers, and so grammar is much on my mind—which explains my sheer delight when I ran across this grammar challenge, given by none other than David Foster Wallace to his students in a nonfiction writing workshop.
Across the top of the worksheet, it reads:
IF NO ONE HAS YET TAUGHT YOU HOW TO AVOID OR REPAIR CLAUSES LIKE THE FOLLOWING, YOU SHOULD, IN MY OPINION, THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT SUING SOMEBODY, PERHAPS AS CO-PLAINTIFF WITH WHOEVER'S PAID YOUR TUITION
I'm very tempted to include this on my grammar exercises in the future. (If you take the challenge and want the answers, you can find them here.)
I'm also intrigued because I edit many articles, both for my work here at Comment and at the other magazine I edit, The Curator, and the sheer discrepancy between people who are purportedly speakers of the same native language is always astounding. I don't have a complete handle on grammar (while I do agree with the answers to the challenge, I know I routinely miss or even perpetrate a few of them), but you've got to wonder why grammar is so hard to standardize.
After all, we all pretty much learn the same answers to the multiplication tables.