Grammar Quiz for Native English Speakers


This short English quiz was designed to test the grammatical knowledge of native English speakers.  It’s a little tricky so be sure to take your time when reading the options and pay attention to punctuation.

Give it a try!

1. Which sentence has proper punctuation?

  1. I pressed the elevator button, then I realized my mistake.
  2. I pressed the elevator button; then I realized my mistake.
  3. I pressed the elevator button: then I realized my mistake.
  4. I pressed the elevator button then I realized my mistake.

  Correct Answer: b Explanation: Both clauses (I pressed the elevator button) and (then I realized my mistake) are independent clauses that represent a complete thought. The word ‘then’ is an adverb indicating time, not a conjunction. Two independence clauses can be joined with a semi-colon, but not a comma.

 

2. Which word in the following sentence is incorrect? “A significant amount of people said they were affected by the regulation.”

  1. A
  2. amount
  3. were
  4. affected

  Correct Answer: b Explanation: ‘amount’ should not describe countable nouns (people). Instead, use ‘number’ (e.g. a number of people…. / a number of studies….) in such cases.

3. Fill in the blank: Tommy often visits ____. They are friends.”

  1. Charles’s house
  2. Charles’ house
  3. the house of Charles’
  4. the house of Charles’s

 Correct Answer: a Explanation: Regardless of the spelling of a name, when it is used in the possessive form, you should add an apostrophe and an ‘s’ to indicate possession. Also, in a prepositional phrase (with ‘of’), you do not need an apostrophe because ‘of’ already indicates possession.

 

4. Add the correct clause: “The country’s president ____ is becoming increasingly unpopular.”

  1. who’s been avoiding the media
  2. whose been avoiding the media
  3. , who’s been avoiding the media,
  4. , whose been avoiding the media,

  Correct Answer: c Explanation: The information in the clause does not define the president, so it is extra information. Adjective clauses that contain extra information should have a comma before and after. Also, ‘whose’ is a relative pronoun indicating possession. However, the blank here represents a subject (the president, i.e. he or she), not something possessed by the president. See this page for help on defining and non-defining adjective clauses.

 

5. Fill in the blanks: “The nurse ___ the patient to his room and helped him ___ down.”

  1. lead / lie
  2. led / lie
  3. lead / lay
  4. led / lay

  Correct Answer: b Explanation: The past tense of lead is led. ‘Lie’ is an intransitive verb, while ‘lay’ is a transitive verb (a verb that can take an object). In other words, to use ‘lay’ we need an object, e.g. She helped him lay flowers on the grave.

 

6. Fill in the blanks: “My manager gave ____ a list of ____ tasks to complete.”

  1. my colleague and I / everyday
  2. my colleague and me / every day
  3. my colleague and I / every day
  4. my colleague and me / everyday

  Correct Answer: d Explanation: Your colleague and you are the object of the verb ‘gave’, so you should use object pronouns (me), not a subject pronoun (I). Secondly, everyday (with no space) is an adjective that describes the noun tasks.

 

7. Fill in the blank: There were many useless items in the alley, ___ a broken stereo.”

  1. e.g.,
  2. i.e.,
  3. that is
  4. which is

  Correct Answer: a Explanation: Here, the only word that fits is “for example”. For help on the differences between e.g., and i.e., see this page.

8. Fill in the blanks: If John hadn’t ______ his car to the party, he _____ alcohol there.

  1. drove / could have drank
  2. drove / could of drunk
  3. driven / could have drunk
  4. driven / could have drank

  Correct Answer: c Explanation: The relevant past participles here are ‘driven’ and ‘drunk’. “Could of” is often how could have is pronounced when spoken, but the correct words are auxiliary verb (could) + have.

 

9. Fill in the blanks: She had ____ money than she expected, so she bought ____ items.

  1. fewer / less
  2. fewer / fewer
  3. less / less
  4. less / fewer

  Correct Answer: d Explanation: ‘Few‘ or ‘few‘ is used before countable nouns (e.g., people, items), and ‘less‘ (and ‘little‘) are used before uncountable nouns (e.g., soup, time). See this page for more information.

 

10. Which sentence(s) is/are correct?

  1. While shopping for gifts, Shane’s phone rang.
  2. Hoping to impress the birthday girl, several gifts were brought to the party.
  3. Hoping to impress the birthday girl and make a good impression on the family.
  4. Hoping to impress the birthday girl, Shane bought a rather expensive gift.

  Correct Answer: d (only d) Explanation: Options A and C exemplify an error known as a dangling modifier. The problem is the phrases “While shopping for gifts” and “Hoping to impress the birthday girl” are actions that are done by a person. However, the subjects of the main clauses of these sentences are objects (“Shane’s phone” or “a cake and several gifts”), not people. This means the sentences lack a subject that can do the actions of shopping or hoping. The subject of Option B, however, is ‘Shane’, a person, who we can conclude was doing the giving/hoping. Lastly, Option C is a fragment (incomplete sentence).

Your Score: 0 out of 0.

Questions? Find a mistake? Leave a comment below.

— Created by Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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43 comments on “Grammar Quiz for Native English Speakers

  1. BetterNotLeaveMyName (Posted on 1-11-2019 at 22:46) Reply

    4 out of 10
    Oh…

    1. Anonymous (Posted on 9-17-2020 at 05:21) Reply

      Same

  2. Kyaw Lynn Khine (Posted on 6-19-2019 at 12:24) Reply

    Good!

  3. Ryuk Mizore (Lukas Sleet), the Royal Witch (Posted on 8-10-2019 at 17:48) Reply

    10/10
    ‘Twas a relaxing brain warm-up!

  4. Not Happy (Posted on 8-28-2019 at 16:03) Reply

    6/10. Too low.

    1. Justin (Posted on 11-18-2019 at 16:39) Reply

      6/10 ~ not even native lol

  5. balanagasai (Posted on 9-18-2019 at 22:38) Reply

    happy only

  6. earnest (Posted on 9-27-2019 at 14:53) Reply

    Scored little; but thanks for the comprehensive explanations. (Hope there are no grammatical errors in my coment, haha)

    1. The italian fellow (Posted on 4-29-2020 at 16:25) Reply

      Comment*

  7. Anonymous (Posted on 10-15-2019 at 16:37) Reply

    Charles’ house is correct – Jesus’ disciples etc !

        1. mb Post author (Posted on 11-4-2020 at 10:49) Reply

          Hello. Yes, that page is incorrect.

      1. spark (Posted on 3-7-2021 at 23:06) Reply

        the use of apostrophe for possessive is a matter of style, not grammar. Within the US there are 2 conflicting school of thoughts on this matter: the Chicago school use the apostrophe in the manner demonstrated in this quiz, but the AP school, which is prominently used in academic circles, omit the second s when forming possessive. For more see here
        https://www.prnewsonline.com/chicago-versus-AP-style#:~:text=For%20singular%20common%20nouns%20that,styles%20use%20just%20an%20apostrophe.

        1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-7-2021 at 23:38) Reply

          As an Instructor, I’m not familiar with the AP school. For academic writing, I’ve only ever used/taught MLA, APA, and the Chicago style. A quick Google shows AP is used in the journalism/PR field. Interesting. Thanks for sharing.

          1. spark (Posted on 3-8-2021 at 01:01)

            MLA is particularly confusing LOL. Since college I got into the habit of just adding the apostrophe because of MLA’s plural rule. It’s only much later that I found out you were supposed to write “writers’ muse” but “the bus’s color”, and “Jesus’ Cross” but “James’s house”. Personally, as and English teacher myself, I think style is just that, style. Unless your aim is to get published in a linguistic journal where every comma and semicolon and period needs to be in its proper place, I think just writing in a way that’s comfortable and communicable is fine :) Personally I’ve always fine adding an as after an s clunky and, for lack of a better word, in elegant, so it’s gonna be James’ house for me all the way :)

  8. Fasial (Posted on 2-4-2020 at 08:22) Reply

    7

  9. JulieAn (Posted on 2-5-2020 at 11:43) Reply

    Using a semi colon for number one makes it a sentence fragment?

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 2-5-2020 at 13:36) Reply

      No–a semi-colon can join two independent clauses, so using a semi-colon for number one is a correct way to link the two sentences.

    2. Anonymous (Posted on 11-15-2020 at 03:00) Reply

      me bad on igless
      onli 9/10

  10. Rahul (Posted on 3-4-2020 at 05:48) Reply

    happily 1/10

  11. Colourlessgreenidea (Posted on 3-24-2020 at 10:39) Reply

    What’s wrong with 10. a and b ? They’re valid grammatical sentences! ;-)

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 3-24-2020 at 13:10) Reply

      a) is a comma splice (you cannot combine two independent clauses with a comma) and b) is valid!

  12. colourlessgreenideas (Posted on 3-25-2020 at 07:49) Reply

    The participle in a) is very wrong if we refer it to Sue, of course – but suppose the phone went shopping? You never know what your electronic gadgets are up to these days ;.-)

  13. Gills (Posted on 5-24-2020 at 09:38) Reply

    (Charles’ house) is correct, please!

  14. Gills- Kigali RW (Posted on 5-24-2020 at 09:45) Reply

    Your Score: 9 out of 10. Not too shabby.

    I only failed Charles’ house. I think there is no other s at the end of the sentence. Please, provide us with numerous source coz even the Bible never says Jesus’s apostles.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 5-24-2020 at 14:23) Reply

      Great score! See comment above from 10-15-2019 for answer to your question about possessives. Another person asked the same question.

  15. Albert Ray Myers (Posted on 6-8-2020 at 14:19) Reply

    I’m a Filipino but I can speak English Fluently

  16. Gretch (Posted on 7-3-2020 at 18:15) Reply

    Is the author American or English? I’d wager the former.

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 7-4-2020 at 00:42) Reply

      Neither (Canadian), but I likely follow most AmE conventions

    2. Lorde bum bum mole (Posted on 10-30-2020 at 08:11) Reply

      The farmer or the ladder? Get it?

  17. Marina (Posted on 7-5-2020 at 05:51) Reply

    9/10

  18. Dave (Posted on 7-11-2020 at 10:17) Reply

    3, 9 and 10 are stylistic choices, not grammatical mistakes: multiple sources will show that nouns ending in an s can correctly have just an apostrophe (Charles’ house), OR an apostrophe and an s (Charles’s house). Neither is grammatically incorrect. Similarly the less/fewer ‘rule‘ is widely regarded as archaic, and the two words interchangeable. Similarly, a dangling modifier, while stylistically undesirable to some, is not a grammatical error.

    1. MB (Posted on 7-11-2020 at 14:19) Reply

      Thanks for the comment. Naturally if you are going to make a grammar quiz for native speakers, it has to be prescriptivist to some degree. If I took a purely communicative approach, it would be hard to find 10 commonly-used “errors” that weren’t acceptable somewhere. Also, I think it’s okay to include “stylistically undesirable” answers as incorrect based on their style being, as you stated, undesirable.

  19. RMT (Posted on 10-8-2020 at 12:43) Reply

    4 of 10 crap!!

    Your Score: 4 out of 10. Oh well.

  20. M (Posted on 10-30-2020 at 08:15) Reply

    I got 5/10.

    I do like that there is a valid explanation at the end of each of the incorrect answers given.
    They seem linguistically valid and I understand that when discussing whether something is considered grammatical or ungrammatical the approach will always have to be a little bit prescriptive.

    Perhaps there are more tools I could use to polish my grammar?

    1. M (Posted on 10-30-2020 at 08:15) Reply

      Linguistically= referring to fields of linguistics studies

      1. mb Post author (Posted on 10-30-2020 at 15:35) Reply

        Hello, at this advanced level, I don’t have any more resources. If you find you are having a particular problem, feel free to write it below and I can attempt to diagnose it.

  21. Max (Posted on 1-28-2021 at 18:26) Reply

    Dangling modifiers are often perfectly acceptable, for example Virginia Woolf used them a lot – and I wouldn’t doubt her sense of style. Actually they may be seen as a particular case of ellipsis : “(Because she was) Under the stress of thinking about Isabella, her room became more shadowy and symbolic; the corners seemed dark…”

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 1-29-2021 at 10:07) Reply

      Hello! Yes, I do not doubt your example and I agree that a dangling modifier can be acceptable in literature or other writing where style may be more important that prescriptive grammar. Still, the majority of the people who access this website are trying to write accurately for school, university, or business. In such cases I still think it’s worthwhile to advise against using a dangling modifier.

  22. Anonymous (Posted on 2-15-2021 at 22:28) Reply

    I failed

  23. Anonymous (Posted on 5-4-2021 at 13:29) Reply

    I think this test is designed to be rude.

  24. John Doe (Posted on 8-10-2021 at 11:08) Reply

    I was surprised to get a 3/10. I’ve been speaking English my entire life, who knew it was of the incorrect variety..

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