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'Tis (or t'is?) the season: A grammar quiz

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

There are a surprising number of pitfalls to holiday writing, even if it's just invitations and corporate communications. How do you spell the name of that red plant your department is hawking for charity, for example? And does the possessive form of "Claus" take a second "s" or just an apostrophe? Learn the answers to these and other pressing writing questions in this holiday-themed quiz.

1. The name of that ubiquitous red plant is __________.
a. pointsetta
b. poinsetta
c. poinsettia
d. pointsettia

2. We're planning a special dinner and gifts for employees and their guests, so we ask that you _______ by Friday.
b. please RSVP

3. I'm only committed to two parties that evening, so I _________ accept your invitation.
a. graciously
b. gratefully

4. Be careful shopping online: According to security experts, ____ the season for identity theft. 
a. ’tis
b. t’is

5. __________________ is promoting eBooks as “instant gifts.”
a. Barnes & Noble
b. Barnes and Noble

6. We're planning an ___________ celebration this year. We'll be dining by candlelight -- and banning iPhones at the table.
a. old-fashion
b. old-fashioned

7. There are a lot of holidays in December, not just ______ but also Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Lunar New Year, Santa Lucia Day and sometimes Ramadan.
a. Xmas
b. Christmas

8. The Scottish tradition of first-footing involves being the first person to step across a friend or neighbor's _______ after midnight on January 1.
a. threshold
b. threshhold

9. On December 24th, a lot of children can be found gazing out windows for a glimpse of _________ sleigh.
a. Santa Claus'
b. Santa Claus's

10. After the celebrations on ____________, January 1 seems like an excellent choice for a holiday.
a. New Year's Eve
b. New Years Eve
c. New Years' Eve

Visit our grammar blog Writing for Business for more quiz questions.

Learn how a typo started a Christmas tradition.


Be sure to take our other holiday quizzes!

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This was last updated in December 2012

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This is why Americans shouldn't be trusted with the English language.
weird I got the non of the answers right
A grammar quiz themed on holiday season. Now who would have expected that ? :p
that is really cool I only got #3 wrong!!
such a stupid quiz
Diwali is not in December. Cultural-grammar is important too.
#9 is so wrong . It is so "A". im a ten your old and i know that ! not kidding
#9 is so A. Take the word of a 9 year old.
Im a 10 year old! :-(
A grammar quiz which is actually a spelling (Orthography) quiz considering grammar is sentence structure, not spelling...
Mistake in the very second word of the intro - it should be " There is a surprising number…"
Not impressive!
Diwali is not in December.
I think "There are pitfalls" is correct!(excuse my spelling).
#8 A threshold was the board that blocked the kernels of grain from spilling out of the room when it was separated from the chaff with a flail during threshing.
Well, the word neighbour is spelled incorrectly in my English world.
#4 The contraction of "it is" is "it's" not 'Tis or t'is..... according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
This isn't (merely) a grammar quiz. It's a spelling, etiquette, vocabulary, grammar, and orthography quiz.
To post #473209 (who said the second word should be "is" rather than "are")

The author actually got it correct. The word "are" is in relation to the sentence's subject, "pitfalls," which is plural. "A surprising number" is a modifier and not the actual subject, and so the verb ("to be") should be conjugated to "are," not "is."

Hope this helps.
wrong poster. the word "number" is the determining word of is or are. "of pitfalls" is prepositional phrase describing the number, which is singular. How many pitfalls? there is a number.
For an online quiz, rather dull to use. No way to click an answer. Have to go to another page and use the back button to return each time. Yuck!
'There are a surprising number" should actually be "There IS a surprising number" since "number" is singular!
Grammar my ass! This is a word usage drill. Uhmm? Come on! You are supposed to be able to properly describe something. Best of luck!
I got the first to the fifth question wrong how did I get the others right?
To the poster of Comment #473228, and everyone who agreed with them:

The word "number" can be either singular or plural, depending on the meaning being used. In this case, the meaning would be "A numerous group", or "many". According to Merriam-Webster Online, that particular meaning of "number" is a plural noun, thus requiring the use of "are", not "is" as the verb.

To the person who said that "pitfalls" was the subject of the sentence: The object of a prepositional phrase cannot be the subject of the sentence.
Ummmm .What? 'Number' is SINGULAR
In #8, the wording should be ".. friend's and neighbor's", not "friend and neighbor's".
hi marcsenseman a
"Number" is more often plural than singular. As a pronoun, generally means "some". AS IN "A number of people" meaning some number of people, is plural. More commonly as a noun referring to arithmatic, as in "The number will likely rise" is singular.
So it can be either singular or plural, depending on it's usage.
I find it very strange that the question about Barnes & Noble is in a holiday-themed grammar quiz. The question has nothing to do with grammar but rather the specific way that the bookstore has decided to style its name. There are no rules here besides "do what the company does" and you have to look that up each time.
GAH. Why can't you guys google? "There is a number of..." is grammatically correct, since number is a collective noun. If the members of the said collection are acting in the same manner, the proper verb used is singular.

Oh, and to the kiddies addressing the Santa Claus possessive: both are correct. Which would you say, "Mrs Jones' car" or "Mrs Jones's car"? You would see both. Now go back to your desk and study your grammar.
neighbor - depends where you live - neighbour would be correct
We are talking about a number, right?
So, There is a surprising number of ...
Lunar New Year is never in December. It is late January or early February.
Too bad Han Solo was murdered by his own son.
Hey Tech Target...While you are critiquing us on grammar, might want to double check yours
. How do you spell the name of that red plant your department is HAWKING for charity,
IT's HOCKING or to PAWN. :) Denise/Alaska
Diwali is not in December. It is usually in October or November but NEVER December
i personally celebrate Hanukkah. but i want to know what the heck is 'Tis and where did the word Christmas get lost? say it out loud : Christmas. Christmas. Christmas.
Enjoyed the quiz, nice variety of topics.
Merry Christmas
I enjoyed the quiz but was surprised to find a grammar mistake in the introduction: There are a surprising number of pitfalls to holiday writing ... Surely since the word number is singular, the sentence should be There is a surprising number of pitfalls to holiday writing ....!
I missed #8, grrrr. Grammer, spelling, etymology, it doesn't matter; I learned something.
Me talk gooder now.
I can't believe some of the nits these commenter are picking.
How do you take this quiz? It won't let me type or click on anything.
Grammar mistake in Number 3: the word "only" is in the wrong position - and this is supposed to be a test of MY grammar??????


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