Basic Grammar Practice Questions

1. She picked the blue dress because she thought it was ________ than the green dress.

A. more prettier
B. prettier
C. pretty
D. prettiness

2. She felt ill and wanted to ________ down.

A. lay
B. laid
C. lie
D. lain

3. Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?

A. Owing to her tardiness she was given detention.
B. Owing to her tardiness; she was given detention.
C. Owing to her tardiness: she was given detention.
D. Owing to her tardiness, she was given detention.

4. Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?

A. The student, who is limping; had a broken leg last summer.
B. The student who is limping, had a broken leg last summer.
C. The student who is limping had a broken leg last summer.
D. The student, who is limping, had a broken leg last summer.

5. Knowing correct grammar will help you write ________.

A. good
B. well
C. goodly
D. clear

6. Which of the following sentences is the clearest?

A. I had 30 years of driving experience when I first had an accident.
B. I had been driving for 30 years when I finally had the accident.
C. I was driving for 30 years when I got into an auto accident.
D. I drove for 30 years and then I got into my first accident.

7. Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?

A. I don’t want to have to repeat this twice. You better reconsider this again.
B. I don’t want to have to repeat this. You had better reconsider.
C. I don’t want to have to repeat this again. You better think twice and reconsider.
D. I don’t want to have to repeat you better think twice before reconsidering.

8. Which of the following sentences is the clearest?

A. The doctor in his office has photos of his children at different ages.
B. The doctor has photos at different ages of his children in his office.
C. The doctor has photos in his office of his children at different ages.
D. In his office at different ages, the doctor has photos of his children.

9. Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?

A. The other witness, which was my brother, arrived later.
B. The other witness, whom was my brother, arrived later.
C. The other witness, what was my brother, arrived later.
D. The other witness, who was my brother, arrived later.

10. This matter is strictly between ________.

A. her and me
B. she and I
C. her and I
D. she and me

Answers – Basic Grammar

1. B: Prettier is the comparative form of the adjective pretty. Adding “more” to a comparative already ending in “-ier” is redundant and ungrammatical. Pretty, the original form of this adjective, is not a comparative and does not agree with the construction “…than the green dress.” “Pretty” could only be used in this sentence with “more” (i.e. “more pretty”). “Prettiness” is a noun, not an adjective, and hence cannot modify another noun.

2. C: The infinitive of the verb is “to lie.” “Lie” is also the imperative (e.g. “Lie down now”) and the present tense (“We lie down at night”) form of the verb. “Lay” is the past tense (“She lay down last night”). “Laid” is not a tense of “to lie” but the past tense of “lay,” a transitive verb (one that takes an object), as in “He laid down the law” or “She laid the book on the table.” “Lain” is the past participle of “to lie” used in the present perfect tense (“She has lain on that bed for hours”) and in the past perfect tense (“We had lain there for an hour before the phone rang”). The past participle of the transitive verb “lay” is “laid” (“She has always laid the book on that table”).

3. D: When a dependent or subordinate clause comes before an independent clause, the two clauses are separated with a comma. Without any punctuation separating its clauses, this sentence is incorrect. Using a semicolon is incorrect; a semicolon is used to separate two independent clauses (as in this sentence). Colons are used to introduce lists of items following complete sentences, to introduce a sentence (or sentences in some cases) that explains or illustrates the preceding sentence, and in business letter salutations. A colon should not be used in this sentence.

4. C: When someone is specifically identified, the description in the relative (adjective) clause is non-essential, and is set off by surrounding it with commas (“Pat, who is limping, had a broken leg last summer”). In the example given, “student” is a general term and the specific student is not identified. Therefore, the description is essential and no commas are used. Using a semicolon is incorrect. Using one comma is incorrect since no commas are needed in this sentence.

5. B: This sentence could be completed with a noun used as a direct object (e.g. “…help you write books”). However, no noun choices are offered. The correct answer, then, must be an adverb indicating how the person being addressed in the sentence will write. “Well” is correct. “Good” is an adjective, not an adverb. “This is good writing” is grammatically correct, but “to write good” is not. “Goodly” was an archaic form of the adjective “good” that is no longer used, but it is not an adverb. “Clear” is also an adjective. The adverb form (“to write clearly”) would be correct, but “to write clear” is not.

6. A: This is the only sentence that clearly expresses the correct meaning. The other choices make it sound as if the writer drove continuously for 30 years before getting into an auto accident.

7. B: Because the word “repeat” is used in the sentence, “twice” is redundant. “Repeat this twice” would literally mean to say it three times. The phrase “you better” (A, C, and D) is ungrammatical. When giving advice about a specific situation and implying “or else,” the auxiliary verb “had” is used together with the adverb “better” plus the main verb (“reconsider” in this example). “Repeat this again” is similar to “repeat this twice” in that it is also redundant. The phrase “…think twice and reconsider” is redundant as well. Choice D lacks punctuation or a connector like “that” between the two clauses. Additionally, the meaning of the phrase “think twice before reconsidering” is unclear. It sounds contradictory and does not make sense.

8. C: The photos are of the doctor’s children; the children are at different ages in different photos; and the doctor has these photos in his office. Choice C is the only one that clearly expresses all of this information. The other choices all have misplaced modifiers. “In his office” does not modify the doctor (as it does in choice A) but the photos. “At different ages” does not modify the photos (as it does in choice B) or the doctor (as it does in choice D) but the children.

9. D: The relative/adjective clause modifying “witness” should be introduced with the pronoun “who” since it refers to a person. A common mistake is to use “which.” Using “which” is more appropriate when referring to a thing. The pronoun “whom” is only used as an indirect object (e.g. “My brother, with whom I spoke, arrived later”) or as a direct object (e.g. “My brother, whom I saw, arrived later”). “What” is not used to introduce a relative clause; it is used to introduce a nominal or noun clause (e.g. “I know what you did”).

10. A: The personal pronouns here are objects modifying the verb “is.” They are connected by the preposition “between.” In such prepositional phrases as “between you and me” or “between her and me,” the pronoun is always objective. “Her” and “me” are objective (used as objects); “she” and “I” are subjective (used as subjects). An easy test is to remove one of the pronouns: you wouldn’t say “between I” but “between me” (even though “between” makes no sense with either word), just as you wouldn’t say “without I” but “without me.” You wouldn’t say “with she” but “with her.”


Last Updated: June 21, 2021