Answers to Robert's Quiz

Robert, commenting on a recent thread on assessment, wrote this:
For all of the teachers who believe that one cannot speak a language without consciously knowing the rules of grammar and proper terminology, I suggest giving this “modest grammar quiz” to college-educated native English speakers, especially those who have not taken advanced grammar courses. I can guarantee that very few will have the slightest idea where to begin, yet they are sufficiently fluent in English to have earned college degrees.
Please give the correct form for each of the following verbs:
1. to drink – 3rd person neuter singular present perfect active indicative
2. to go – 2nd person plural future perfect active indicative
3. to hang – 1st person singular future perfect passive indicative
4. to speak to – 3rd person plural pluperfect passive indicative
5. to equivocate with the idiom “to go” – 3rd person feminine singular pseudo-future continuous active indicative
6. to hang – 3rd person neuter singular pluperfect passive indicative
7. to hear – 2nd person singular pluperfect passive indicative
8. to lay – 3rd person masculine singular future perfect progressive active indicative
9. to lie (= be in a horizontal position) – 3rd person feminine singular present perfect active indicative
10. to be – 1st person singular pluperfect active subjunctive
Bonus: Use the verb in #10 in a conditional sentence.
Re spelling: I inevitably have a conversation with students about spelling that goes something like this –
-Student: “Does spelling count?”
-Teacher: “Of course. Spelling always counts.”
-Students: ::groan::
-Teacher: “If you write ‘j-a’ and say it spells ‘nein’, I’m going to count it wrong.”
-Students: ::laughter::
-Teacher: “As long as the error does not interfere with comprehension and communication, I can be flexible.”
-Students: ::sigh of relief::
And then he sent these answers, for Bryce and others who wanted to know:
Hi Ben,
Here are the answers and comments to the grammar quiz. Just as a reminder, anything I post on your blog carries with it permission for other members of the blog to copy, distribute, modify, edit, etc. I trust everyone in the group to use it well and wisely.
For those who asked, here are the answers:
1. It has drunk
2. You will have gone
3. I will have been hanged
4. They had been spoken to.
5. She is going to be equivocating
6. It had been hung
7. You had been heard
8. He will have been laying
9. She has lain
10. I had been
Bonus: Sample sentence: If I had been a grammarian, then I would have known all of the answers.
Naturally, as with all grammar-based quizzes, if any part of an answer is wrong the whole answer is wrong. Non-standard constructions are also wrong. I would be interested in knowing how many questions are missed.
1. a typical error will be “it has drank”
2. some sociolects will say “you will have went”
3. when referring to execution of people, “to hang” uses a regular/weak past participle (remember the judicial sentence in the Old West: “to be hanged by the neck until dead”)
4. Some people will try to avoid putting “to” at the end of the sentence, thinking of it as a preposition rather than part of the verb. (Think of Winston Churchill’s famous “. . . and that is something up with which I will not put”)
5. My guess is that there will be a number of “She is going to equivocate” answers, forgetting the progressive element is in both parts
6. This is the opposite of number 3; when referring to things “to hang” uses the irregular/strong past participle (”the stockings were hung by the chimney with care”)
7. This one’s pretty straightforward if you know the jargon
8. and 9. deal with the confusion of lay/lie; 9. may very well get a response of “she has laid”
10. Most people have no idea that the pluperfect subjunctive even exists, let alone what it looks like
If one of the “Grammar Master” colleagues complains that the “quiz” is advanced, remind him/her that it merely tests at the level the language is used. These are, after all, advanced speakers. It is no harder for them than the typical grammar quiz in a beginning, “intermediate” or “advanced” high school language class is for the students at that level.



2 thoughts on “Answers to Robert's Quiz”

  1. I’m taking this to my school’s CAT meeting tomorrow. (they asked me for my thoughts on curriculum and assessment!) It will help communicate the problem with describing language in terms of technical grammatical terms. We put barriers between kids and language when we require them to understand infinitives, all the parts of speech, conjugation, rules and charts. Toddlers would never learn language in the face of such adversity! Most of our students don’t either. In today’s world, learning to talk about the language should never take precedence over learning to use the language.

  2. I get 0/10 on this quiz. I don’t know any of these verb terms, though I’ve heard some them. It makes me thankful to teach Chinese – simple verbs. There are other complexities, but verbs are simple.
    I think I’ve said it before in here, but I think that some of the interest among Chinese teachers towards CI and TPRS is because we have fewer of the opposition points than Western language teachers, who talk about conjugation.

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