Grammar for Grownups Quiz 64

The Third Verb

I am soooo fed up listening to the way our language is desecrated! I narrowed down the most troublesome areas as a) use of pronouns and b) irregular verbs. Now if there’s one thing you don’t want to be in U.S. English, it’s an irregular verb. Remember how dictionaries provide a verb’s present and past tense, followed by a (OMG, the P-word) participle – the verb with a helping verb. Examples: run, ran, have run; grin, grinned, have grinned. Insert the third verb in the following sentences (I have given you the helper and the to-verb form):

  1. If Matt kissed me, I would have (to die) on the spot.
  2. His motorcycle was what had (to bring) him to my house.
  3. If Kaylie wanted to join us, she should have (to take) an earlier bus.
  4. You’d have (to think) she would have (to know) that.
  5. Kaylie might have (to go) with us to the movies.
  6. Matt and I had (to buy) three tickets for the theater.
  7. Never tell teenagers how they should have (to speak) to their parents or when they should have (to do) it.
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 63


When is too much too much? When you regard adjectives and adverbs as bling, you’ll develop a keen respect for what they can add (or detract) to your writing. As with personal bling (for the uninitiated: jewelry, decoration, trim), you need to find the line between too little, too much, or misleading. Decorate the following sentences with your own taste for bling before checking mine in the Answers.

  1. The deserted, lonely, sandy beach reached greedily toward the sunset, blazing with iridescent glory just above the blue, azure, sweetly lapping oceanic waves.
  2. The luau was held under the palm trees.
  3. When you’ve been in the hot sweltering sun too long, your tender pale skin will turn ruby red and achingly painful.
  4. When in the mountains, be alert to rumblings that may precede eruptions.
  5. Breakfast of sweet cinnamon buns, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and warm toast, eaten under the palms and served with creamy mocha coffee, is my idea of paradise.
  6. Please don’t be afraid of sharks when you go surfing.
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 62

The DO-BEs

The choices of person and verb tense are two of the most important a writer can make. Do you write in first, second, or third person? And do you write present or past tense? Following are some choices for you. Choose the verb tense that fits the sentence.

  1. As soon as my head (to hit) the pillow, I (to dream) I (to be) strolling on a sandy beach below a big yellow moon.
  2. After I return from the store, I (to prepare) hot soup that (to be) too much for a warm day.
  3. Don’t be surprised about the way your skin (to feel) after you (to sit) in the sun for three hours.
  4. When I (to fly) to Maui, I (to discover) it (to be) a beautiful jungle.
  5. My computer (to refuse) to operate smoothly on the beach. It (to suffer) from too much sand.
  6. Swimming in warm water (to soothe) my savage beast that (to want) to hit everything in sight.
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 61

Your Own Style Manual

Every writer needs their own Style Manual – that is, a notebook compilation of the decisions they make about grammar, punctuation, and other word usage. When you choose, note it in your Style Manual and you’ll never have to make that decision again.

Here are some decisions for you to make now – to get you started.

  1. Do you write a.m./p.m., A.M./P.M., AM/PM, or am/pm?
  2. How do you spell that red tomatoey stuff: catsup, katsup, ketchup, or cetchup?
  3. Do you use the comma before “and” in a string of three or more? (My estate is to be equally divided among my children, Michael, Joan, Martha and John – OR – My estate is to be equally divided among my children, Michael, Joan, Martha, and John.)
  4. When do you capitalize “president”? (The President/president made a State of the Union address. The president/President announced new company policies.)
  5. Do you capitalize such words as: city, county, state, federal? When? (I work for the City of Lakewood. I work for the city of Lakewood.)
  6. When you have one husband/wife/sister/brother/etc. do you use commas before and after the name? (My sister Maryan… or My sister, Maryan,… ?
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 60

American Quotation Marks or British?

Those little dots with tails attached can be illusive to someone learning the intricacies of American English grammar. I’m talking about the comma (,) and the apostrophe (‘) and the double dots/tails which include quotation marks (” “). Just to confuse things, sometimes the quote marks involve only one (‘ ‘).

Here’s where it gets confusing: In America, we use double-quotes for spoken lines and single-quotes for quotes within quotes.

“I’m going to kiss you now,” she said.
“Did you say ‘kiss’ or am I mistaken?” he asked.

Pay attention now! In England, writers use the opposite.

‘You heard me, big boy.’
‘I’m puckered, but don’t call me “big boy”!’

What muddied the waters is a little book that came out several months ago and sold wildly because of its cute title (Eats Shoots and Leaves). Few realize that the text was written under British rules. Since then, the impressionable have copied some of those “rules”. (Didn’t we fight a war a couple hundred years ago to get rid of the British influence?) Oh yes, one more idiosyncrasy: the Brits (and Europeans) use commas instead of periods in financial matter. As in: the price is 19,95 (euros) or $19.95 (US).

Place your quotation marks where you will in these sentences:

  1. When they met in the park, he said, Let’s sit down and talk.
  2. I don’t want to talk, she answered.
  3. The last time we spoke, you said just for the heck of it, but didn’t mention when.
  4. What I said was this: Squeeze me, but please don’t tease me.
  5. Oooh, she said, moving over to sit beside him. You’re such a strong guy!
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 59

Is It It’s or Its?

Place the best word in the following sentences – its, it’s

  1. Poetry offers music with (its/it’s) words.
  2. (Its/It’s) the thrill of discovery that excites me.
  3. A rhyme without reason tells nothing about (its/it’s) purpose.
  4. Rhythm, on the other hand, gives poetry (its/it’s) tempo.
  5. When (its/it’s) done right, rhyme and rhythm sing.
  6. Whether (its/it’s) hot or cold, poetry shares (its/it’s) emotional message.
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 58

So you think you know the meaning of words.

From the following list, choose the appropriate word to complete the sentences below: continual, continuous, constant, eternal, incessant, or perpetual.

  1. Birds at daybreak offer a ________ chirping.
  2. The invasive noise is a ________ nuisance.
  3. The ________ chatter of those dratted birds interrupt my sleep.
  4. Added to bird chatter is the ________ noise from the neighbor’s generator.
  5. I haven’t even mentioned the ________ snoring of my bedmate.
  6. If I listen closer, I may find ________ gratitude for the birdsong.
  7. Would you trade the ________ sound of snoring with the ________ song of birds?
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 57

What’s the Difference Between the Pros?

What’s the difference between a preposition, a proposition, a pronoun, and a pronouncement? How much do you know about the language of grammar?

Fill in the spaces:

  1. Words naming things are called __________.
  2. Words describing “thingees” are called __________.
  3. Phrases that include a verb form are called __________.
  4. Words that replace those “thingee” words are called __________.
  5. Words describing how things happen are called __________.
  6. Words showing action are called __________.
  7. Words that describe things that tell how things happen are called __________.
  8. Words that introduce phrases are called __________.
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 56

Pronouns Are Important

Pronouns are the little words that mean so much and get so mutilated in daily usage. We forget what they represent (a noun), how they’re spelled (their/there/they’re) and how to use them to make sense. Now along comes John Mayer’s hit song, “Waiting on the World to Change”, which begins, “Me and all my friends…” Oh woe! Oh woe! Fill in the blanks below with either “I” or “me”.

  1. Will you please find an apartment for Margaret, Emma and __________?
  2. Margaret and __________ want to be near the center of the campus.
  3. Emma prefers a quieter place, just between you and __________.
  4. Emma and __________ will get along very well.
  5. But Margaret and __________ like a more active surrounding.
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Grammar for Grownups Quiz 55

Numbers Are Important

Numbers are important, especially at the beginning of the year. (Write 100 times: the year is 2010!) Here are some sentences to quiz your usage of numbers in writing. Choose the one you think is right before you check the answers.

  1. (Nine / 9) of my friends are joining me for a New Year’s party. I invited (25 / twenty-five).
  2. I’m told that about (three million dollars / $3 million / $3,000,000) will be spent on fireworks in town.
  3. I’m saving for my party on (February 14 / February 14th); so save the (14 /14th), my friends.
  4. For fun, the theme is the era of the (1940’s / 1940s); try styling a (1940’s / 1940s) pageboy hairdo.
  5. The party begins at (7:30 / seven-thirty) (P.M. / p.m. / pm). So leave the house by (7:00 / seven o’clock).
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