Grammar Quiz #14: Irregular Verbs

By Mark Nichol

Choose the verb that fills the blank most appropriately.

1. No sooner had the family spread out their picnic, than it _______ to rain.
a) began
b) begun

2. When I saw the look on Zack’s face, I knew he had _______ his promise.
a) broken
b) broke

3. At the signal everyone _______ and began to sing.
a) raised
b) rose

4. If you ________ around all day, you will never amount to anything.
a) lay
b) lie

5. Lucille _______ very still and listened intently to her aunt’s instructions.
a) set
b) sat

Answers and Explanations

1. No sooner had the family spread out their picnic, than it began to rain.
a) began

The principal parts of this verb are begin, began, (have) begun. The simple past “began” is called for here.

2. When I saw the look on Zack’s face, I knew he had broken his promise.
a) broken

The principal parts of this verb are break, broke, (have) broken. The past participle form broken is used with the helping verb had.

3. At the signal everyone rose and began to sing.
b) rose

The verb rise is an intransitive verb meaning “to stand up” or “ascend.” The principal parts are rise, rose, (have) risen.

4. If you lie around all day, you will never amount to anything.
b) lie

The principal parts of the intransitive verb lie, meaning “to recline,” are lie, lay, (have) lain. The present tense is called for in an “if clause” when the result clause is in future tense.

5. Lucille sat very still and listened intently to her aunt’s instructions.
b) sat

The intransitive verb sit means “to be seated.” Its principal parts are sit, sat, (have) sat. The verb set is transitive. It takes an object. The principal parts of set are set, set, (have) set.

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7 Responses to “Grammar Quiz #14: Irregular Verbs”

  • Dale A. Wood

    Venqax, “group noun” is an unfamiliar term, probably a poorly defined one.
    The terms “collective noun” and “mass noun” are familiar and well-defined ones. Please see the following articles in the Wikipedia and elsewhere:
    “Collective noun” and “Mass noun”.

  • venqax

    Yes, Teresa FitzPatrick, it is “a” family. Family is not a group noun like cattle, or people. At least not in SAE. Don’t know what the British do, they have some odd ideaRs about English.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Scientific and linguistic analysis proves that the following is true for all languages that have irregular verbs:
    Only the more common verbs can be irregular. This is because there is an ongoing process that pushes the less common verbs to all become regular. You can look at a list of the most commonly used verbs in English, and you can see it.
    The language with the largest set of irregular verbs is English, and in second place is German. Here is what does it for English: we have irregular verbs that came from Anglo-Saxon-Jute, French, Danish, Latin, Greek, German, Sanskrit, Spanish …
    The most irregular verbs in English, and in German, are the ones for “to be”. Just to get started well: {am, are, be, is, was, were,…}
    In German: {bin, bist, sein, sind, seid, war, waren, warst, wart, gewesen, and more for the subjunctive mood.}
    Part of the problem with German comes from different forms of the word “you” for formal, informal, singular, and plural.
    In Modern English, we have disposed of {thee, thou, thy, thine} and all suggestions of formal vs. informal.
    The latter distinction remains important in German, Spanish, Japanese, Russian,….
    In contrast, Mandarin Chinese pronouns and verbs make no distinction between singular, plural, masculine, feminine, or neuter.

  • Dale A. Wood

    Likewise, phooey on those British who believe that these words are not all singular, requiring singular verbs and singular pronouns:
    army, congregation, collection, family, fleet, force, government, group, navy, set, staff, team.
    Worse yet, sentences like “Manchester are having a fistfight with Birmingham,” and “Portland were arguing with Portsmouth.”

  • Dale A. Wood

    In American English, a “family” is definitely singular. Hence it requires singular verbs and the singular pronoun “it”.
    Some British people say that they cannot stand this and that it drives them crazy. I say “Good for them! Let them be driven crazy!” The statements “The family are,” “The family were,” “The family have” are all complete balderdash malarkey and tommyrot, to use some British terms.

  • Bill

    Good explanations but this test is one I can’t imagine taking without getting them all right. This isn’t a boast because I’m not saying I worked hard to learn how to use these verbs; it was just the milieu in which I was raised. The hard work comes when you’ve grown up thinking one thing and later find out it’s incorrect and you want to change your way. I’ve actually cut phrases and sentences out and put them where I’ll see them daily, i.e., near my computer screen. After awhile, the right way sinks in.
    * I think Teresa is right. It could be “their,” but when a group does something together “its” sounds better.

  • Teresa FitzPatrick

    Shouldn’t question number one read, “As soon as the family spread out its picnic…?”

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