Can You Ace This Grammar Quiz?



By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

It's true that language is always in flux. What was considered good English a thousand years ago wouldn't be understandable in today's world. Indeed, Anglo-Saxon would sound more like Dutch or German to the modern ear. Grammar rules can mutate inside the span of a few short years, as technology changes and people's methods of communication shift.

However, being able to write correctly, according to the standards of the day - even if they are not the standards of yesterday - is extremely important. Proper grammar sets a person apart. It says that they care enough to bother to express themselves correctly. It shows intelligence and diligence that impress employers, friends, and just about anyone else. It confers the ability to code-switch between different social groups, enabling one to fit in anywhere and set others at ease. 

It also proves a person's creativity; after all, anybody can chuck words on a page without regard for the rules, but doing so in a way that is elegant and meaningful by adhering to the rules that readers innately recognize? That is the preserve of the gifted few. 

Are you a grammar queen or a linguistic nightmare? It's time to find out!

Which of these do you NOT need for a complete sentence?

You don't need an object in a sentence. For example: "He walked." That is a perfectly good sentence with just a subject, verb, and period!


Which are the missing words in this sentence: "If I had ____ tasks, that would be ____ stressful"?

Fewer is for numbers, less is for amounts. So you can have fewer eggs or chickens, but you can have less time or stress.


What are the missing words in this sentence: "____ bad weather ____ alien abduction are considered good reasons to miss school"?

Neither and nor are correct here. It means "not this, and also, not that". Thus, neither bad weather nor alien abduction are considered good reasons to miss school.


With what should you never end a sentence?

Technically, you should not end a sentence with a preposition, so instead of, "Who are you going with?" it should be "With whom are you going?" However, in colloquial speech, some find this annoying, as Winston Churchill once said, "This is the sort of pettifogging nit-picking up with which I will not put!"


By what name is the comma in this sentence known: "The flag is red, white, and blue"?

The Oxford comma is used for simple lists. A simple list is one where the items just go in order and there's one word per item.


Which punctuation mark can you use to join together two ideas?

Commas, semicolons, and hyphens are all valid ways to join together two related clauses. Which one you use is a matter of the size of the pivot between clauses, personal style, and honestly, font - if you're using certain fonts, some punctuation can look really busy on the page, making it hard to read.


Which of the below is in the present tense?

The dog runs! That means it's happening right now. See also: the dog is running, which is a perfectly good way to say the same thing.


Which of these is in the pluperfect?

The pluperfect is something that was already in the past when you were in the past. Instead of, "I did it" you get, "I had done it."


Which of these is NOT a modal verb?

Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that help other verbs. They express whether something is necessary, for example, "I must eat that cookie!" or possible, for example, "I could eat that cookie!"


Which of these is an irregular verb?

"To do" is not a regular verb as it does not follow the pattern; for example, you don't say "I doed" to indicate that you did something. All the other options here are entirely predictable.


Below are four perfectly valid words. Which one breaks a common rule of spelling?

"I before E except after C" is the rule. Fiery, weird, and either are all exceptions to this rule.


Should you ever put both a question mark and an exclamation point at the end of a sentence?

It's overkill and you aren't allowed. You just have to choose. Of course, it's generally seen as OK to break this rule for the purposes of expressing outrage on social media.


How should you indicate that a written sentence is sarcastic?

There is an internet rule known as Poe's Law which states that if you don't specifically state your intent (vis-a-vis satire, sarcasm, etc) then there's no view you can express, no matter how obviously wrong, stupid, or sarcastic, that somebody won't think you mean quite seriously. The use of /s is a response to this. However, it's an informal usage: there is no official symbol for sarcasm.


Which of these suffixes turns a regular verb into the past tense?

The -ed suffix is most commonly seen turning regular verbs into the past tense. For example, "I looked", "He smiled", etc.


Which of these is in the present perfect?

The present perfect is for the unfinished past. So the action - drinking the coffee - is done, but the period of time in which it was consumed is not.


Which of these is in the present perfect progressive?

This tense is a finicky one. It's used to describe an action that started in the past, but hasn't finished in the present. For example, "I've been worrying about that mole for years but I'm too scared to get it checked."


Which are the missing capital letters in this sentence: "i went to london to see the queen"?

You always capitalize "I". You also capitalize proper nouns that include place names like London, and people's names, like "Queen".


Which of these is in the passive voice?

The passive voice is the one you recognize from when politicians and celebrities want to sound like they have apologized without actually taking responsibility for their actions. "I'm sorry if you were offended" is the passive voice. "I'm sorry that I offended you" is active.


What is the correct term for the round shape things that separate out a thought in this sentence: "She decided (subject to negotiation) that she would buy the house."

Parentheses are also called brackets. They're where you put an aside that can't really go in its own sentence and has to be linked immediately to the idea at hand. They're extremely common in legal documents.


Which of these is NOT an adverb?

"Lovely" is an adjective, which is a describing word. The others are all adverbs, which are words that describe HOW something happens or is done: daily, totally, well, smartly, etc.


What is this symbol called: ... ?

An ellipsis is the ... that you often see at the end of a sentence to indicate "and so on" or a trailing off. It also stands in for a missing section of speech that doesn't change the sense, for example, "Today, having realized it was a terrible look on him, he burned all his furry hats" could be written as, "Today... he burned all his furry hats."


Where is the missing apostrophe in this sentence: "Its not your house"?

The apostrophe here is performing one of its functions, namely, standing in for a missing letter in a contraction. "It is not your house" is being written "It's not your house."


Where is the missing apostrophe in THIS sentence: "The puppy constantly chased its tail"?

The tail belongs to the puppy, who constantly chases it. There is no letter missing that warrants adding an apostrophe. There is no such word as "its'" with an apostrophe AFTER the S.


In referring to the cat that belongs to Mr. Gubbins, which is correct?

It's correct to refer to this moggy as "Mr Gubbin's cat". It would also be correct to say "Mr. Gubbins's cat". Putting no apostrophe or putting an apostrophe before the S - bearing in mind his name is Gubbins, not Gubbin - would be wrong.


Which is correct?

Technically, you need to put "an hotel". Nobody actually obeys this rule, but technically, that's the rule.


What is it called when two words are spelled the same but sound different and have different meanings?

A homophone is when two things sound the same but look different, like bough and bow. A heteronym is when two things look the same but sound different, such as entrance (the doorway) and entrance (to cast a spell upon).


Which is the correct missing word: "To ____ should I address the letter?"

To or from whom - this is the dative. It means something or someone that is being acted upon, instead of acting itself.


What is this figure of speech: "Her hair is like spun gold"?

If you say something IS another thing, that's a metaphor. If you say it's LIKE that thing, it's a simile.


What is the correct name for this figure of speech: "I've told you a thousand times"?

Hyperbole means taking something to its highest extreme. You probably haven't told the person a thousand times. Exaggeration is a category of hyperbole.


Which of the below is an article?

There are three articles here. "The" is the definite article as you know which one is named: "the table" means THAT table. "A" or "an" are indefinite, as "a table" or "an egg" could be any table or egg.


What is the correct grammatical term for the following: "Woohoo!"

This is called an interjection. There is not really a rule about where it goes. It's the only sentence that doesn't need a verb.


What is the correct punctuation mark to end the following sentence: "I'm asking you a question"?

It's not a question, it's a statement. It just looks like a question because it has the word question in it! A question would be, "Am I asking you a question?"


What is the triply missing punctuation mark in this sentence: "There's a state of the art facility in town"?

State-of-the-art is an adjective and all the components of it are inextricably linked in this sentence. Thus, they need hyphens, which are like dashes but smaller and used to link words.


Which is the correct missing word: "The people ___ attended the show had fun"?

The people who attended the show had fun. They're not objects, so it's not correct to use "which" or "that", and they had the fun instead of the fun being imposed, so no "whom."


Is this a grammatically correct sentence: "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo?"

Remember there's a place called Buffalo, an animal called buffalo (plural buffalo), and a verb, to buffalo, meaning to bully or harass. This sentence thus means that the buffalo who comes from Buffalo and is known to bully, also bullies other buffalo who come from buffalo. Use it in conversation today!


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