How Well Do You Know English Grammar?



By: Tasha Moore

6 Min Quiz

Image: Fuse/Corbis/Getty Images

About This Quiz

When was the last time you brushed up on your grammar? An opportunity awaits with this English grammar quiz! It's a simple and fun way to assess your language skills. Just about every area of syntax is covered on this test. Gaining a basic understanding of how words are meant to work can go a long way. The ultimate goal for all who seek to enhance their language mechanics skills is better communication.

After taking this quiz, you'll see that a pronoun, for example, can be many things in the English language. The "noun substitute" can be demonstrative, intensive, interrogative, nominative, possessive, relative, reflexive, etc. Did you know that something so simple as a pronoun can take on so many forms? It's worth your while to find out just how special, special cases like these are. And as you may have guessed already, there are exceptions to certain grammar rules, a few of which we explore in this exam. Don't worry, though. The holders of the holy grammar grail have provided us clues concerning when and when not to use aspects of the language and why. We present simple examples on this quiz so that you might best appreciate grammar principles at work.

So, what are you waiting for? Scroll on and flex your grammar might!

Identify the article in the following sentence: "Mary purchased a dog for her birthday."

Articles are used with nouns in phrases and clauses. In the English language, articles such as "the," "a" or "an" definitely or indefinitely define an object. "Some" is occasionally used as an article in "some" cases.


Which punctuation reduces a statement whose meaning can be implied or deduced?

An ellipses is represented by three dots, like this: "...". This punctuation is meant to signify an omission of one or more words in a sentence whose meaning is easily understood. In modern contexts, the ellipses is sometimes used to express a pause in thought.


Which of the following is an example of a morpheme?

A morpheme is the smallest grammatical form that a unit of English can take. In this example, "-ing" is a component of "relaxing" that cannot be reduced any further without losing its grammatical function. The other component of the word "relaxing" is "relax."


Can you identify the predicate in the following sentence? "Peter studied for his physics exam."

In standard grammar, the basic components of a complete sentence are the subject and the predicate. A predicate completes the idea of a sentence and usually defines the subject mentioned. In this example, "Peter" is the subject, and the predicate describes or defines his action of having studied for his physics exam.


Which of these choices is not an example of a determiner?

Determiners refer to a noun or a noun phrase and establishes how defined -- definite or indefinite -- the noun or noun phrase is in a phrase or clause. In the sentence, "This woman is a member," the word "this" defines a particular woman, and the word "a" defines the member as a single (as in one) member.


What basic form of grammar are infinitives?

An infinitive of an English verb is its basic form. "Rest" and "to rest" are both infinitives; "rest" is called a bare infinitive and "to rest" is called a full infinitive.


In which example is the word "chirping" used as a gerund?

Gerunds are verbs that function as nouns, and they always end in "ing." Gerunds can function in many ways in a sentence. For example, the gerund "chirping" used as a direct object can be: "Birds like chirping."


How does "Carter" function in the following sentence? "Jessie slipped Carter the secret note."

Indirect objects are affected by the action of the verb in a sentence. In this example, Carter receives the action, having been slipped the secret note. Indirect objects answer the questions: for whom?, to whom?, for what?, to what?


Which of the following words cannot introduce an adjective clause?

An adjective clause modifies a pronoun or noun. Only a subordinate conjunction (where and when) or a relative pronoun (that, whom, which, who and whose) can begin an adjective clause. "Your" is a possessive pronoun.


Can you identify the preposition in this question?

Prepositions begin a prepositional phrase and express time or spatial correlations. In the question referenced here, the preposition "in" tells us that the "preposition" is found "in this question," the prepositional phrase.


What part of speech are possessives?

Possessives are used as adjectives to describe nouns, but they do not always accompany nouns. Examples of possessives include "your," "yours," "his" and "my."


An antecedent is referred to by which type of word?

Pronouns refer to antecedents, which usually come before the pronouns that replace them. Antecedents can be other pronouns, nouns and noun phrases. In the sentence, "Carol cleaned the silverware, but tarnished them," "silverware" is the antecedent and "them" is the pronoun that refers to it.


What is the interjection in the following sentence? "Darn, I just missed the bus."

An interjection is a word or a group of words that express surprise or some other strong emotion. Comma punctuation (as used in the case here) follows interjections that express mild emotion, while exclamation points follow interjections that express strong emotion.


What is the superlative form of the word "big"?

Superlatives compare two or more persons or things in quantity, quality or degree. A superlative is an adjective or adverb that expresses the highest degree.


What is the gender of the pronoun "he"?

Many languages use gender as a way to systematize their mechanics, matching male or female "gendered" nouns to other aspects of language, like articles and pronouns. In English, gender is identified by pronouns "he" and "she," both of which can be used to express generalizations.


Which of the following is not an example of a past participle?

Past participles are verbs that often end in "-ed" but they can be formed irregularly, as is the case with the word "eaten." "Hit" is an irregular past participle form of "hit."


Which of the following examples is an attributive adjectival case?

An attributive adjective comes before the noun it describes. In the phrase "the boring book," "boring" is attributive to the noun "book." But in the sentence, "This book is boring," "boring" is not attributive.


Can you spot the indefinite quantity?

"Several" does not refer to a particular quantity like the other options do. An indefinite word or phrase does not determine the thing or person it refers to.


What type of phrase is "than I am" in the following sentence? "Sharon is taller than I am."

One or more words are omitted in an elliptical clause to avoid repetition, but the meaning can be implied. In the example here, the phrase "than I am" implies the more expressive clause: "Sharon is taller than I am tall."


Which of the choices is an example of a hyphenated compound noun?

A compound noun consists of two or more words that form one entity. Hyphenated compound nouns separate the words with hyphens. "Cold-blooded" includes a hyphen, but is a compound adjective.


What is the qualifier in the following sentence? "Barry is usually attentive in class."

Qualifiers are adverbs that either grant vagueness or certainty to the words they modify. The sentence "Barry is attentive in class" presents more conviction in tone.


Identify the appositive in the sentence, "My sister Felicia has returned from the hairdresser."

An appositive is one or more words that distinguish the noun or pronouns that the appositive follows. Felicia identifies "sister" in this example.


Which type of punctuation usually follows a participial phrase?

Participial phrases include a participle and accompanying complements, like modifiers, nouns and pronouns. Commas usually follow participial phrases that start a sentence, such as, "Placed between his sister and cousin on the comfortable couch, the baby slept for the duration of the movie."


Which of the following grammatical forms does an adverb not modify?

Adverbs answer the questions "when?," "where?," "how?," "how much?" and "why?". Adverbs that answer when, where, how and why modify verbs. Adverbs that answer "how much" modify other adverbs or adjectives.


Which grammatical form in a sentence usually acts as a substitute for a noun?

Pronouns replace a noun or a group of words that function as nouns. Many words, including mine, each, herself and which, are pronouns that can be used to substitute nouns in a sentence.


Can you select the example of a transitive verb from these choices?

Passive or active voice transitive verbs have objects or subjects that receive action. In the example here, "wrote" is the active transitive verb and "letter" receives the action. In the example, "The letter was written by Karen," "letter" receives the action, but the verb "written" is passive transitive, with "was" as an auxiliary or helping verb.


What is the grammatical form that describes other nouns?

Noun adjuncts answer the questions "what kind?" or "whose?". Noun adjuncts are also referred to as attributive nouns. In the phrase "chicken soup," "chicken" is the noun adjunct because it modifies "soup."


Which of the following is an example of an exclamatory sentence?

Exclamatory sentences exhibit strong emotion. Any type of sentence, such as interrogative, imperative or exclamatory, can be made exclamatory with exclamation point punctuation.


What is another grammatical term for "helping verb"?

Auxiliaries precede the main verbs that they "help." Auxiliaries determine passive tonality, tense and mode of expression. Auxiliaries are involved in the construction of compound verbs, for example, as in the phrase "can read," where "can" is the auxiliary for the main verb "read."


What form of grammar introduces an adverb clause?

Subordinate conjunctions connect a dependent clause (which is a clause that cannot stand alone as a sentence) to an independent clause (which is a clause that can stand alone as a sentence). "Although," "after" and "if" are examples of subordinate conjunctions. Adverb clauses are dependent clauses that modify adjectives, adverbs or (usually) verbs.


Which grammatical term describes the sensible arrangement of linguistic elements to create clauses or phrases?

Syntax primarily involves word arrangement and punctuation in order to achieve coherent sentences. Syntax is governed by a set of grammatical rules with few exceptions.


What is the past tense form of the verb "take"?

All main verbs show one of three tenses: past, present or future. Verb tenses follow specific conjugation patterns with the exception of irregular cases that typically arise in past tense forms. The ending "-ed" is typical for past tense verbs; however, in the example presented here, "took" is the correct past tense form of the present verb "take."


Which of the following choices is not a demonstrative pronoun?

The four demonstrative pronouns in the English language signal out something. Singular forms are "this" and "that," and plural forms are "these" and "those."


What is the ideal length of a standard paragraph?

A single paragraph usually explains one concept or idea. The main idea of the paragraph is usually presented in the first few sentences (or sometimes at the very end), while the supporting sentences of the premise make up the balance of the paragraph.


Which of the following sentences demonstrates the passive voice?

Sentences exhibit either the passive voice or the active voice. In a passive sentence, the subject is being acted upon; in an active sentence, the subject is the agent executing the action of the sentence.


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