Can You Pass This Difficult English Quiz?

Olivia Cantor

Image: Tom Merton/OJO Images/Getty Images

About This Quiz

The English language, while friendly to most, appears to baffle even the longtime speaker. Whether you are a native speaker or one who grew up with it fluently, there are still challenges to face in this ever-evolving mother tongue. 

A primary example of change pertains to even the most basic of grammatical rules. Even those born in countries where English is the official language would still find some snags in usage here and there. And why wouldn't they? Rules of languages often get rewritten or revised as decades pass by. Sometimes, there are also revisions within a certain decade, especially if the times are a-changin' ever so fast! 

Take for example today's fast lingo turnover, thanks - or no thanks, maybe - to the fast-evolving information and communication technologies we also have. Industry jargon from all sectors also seeps into the vernacular faster these days, so we also have that aspect to look into. 

But no matter where these changes come from, the most important thing is still the same: to be able to adjust and adapt to these changes. Thus, a simple language quiz might get you back to the basics, or it could also keep you in check as to what you actually know - or don't know.

Care to try? Come on, let's go!

Choose the right way to say this: ___ are very good friends.

The proper way to say this is: "Jacob and I are very good friends." A simple test if this is correct involves removing the name of the second person in the sentence, and see which pronoun works as a stand-alone subject.

When sending regrets, what word should you use here? Sorry I couldn't be ___.

"Sorry I couldn't be there" is the proper way to say this, as "there" is the word to use to state where you ought to be, or where you are. "Their" is used as a possessive pronoun, so never mistake one for the other.

What do you do to "information" to convert the word into plural form?

"Information" is an example of a noun that has similar singular and plural forms. It is a non-count noun, which means it's not quantifiable, so simply adding "s" won't do.

As Roxette sang, "It must __ been love, but it's over now."

"It must have been love" is the correct way, though some might mistake it as "It must of been love." The use of "must of" is grammatically incorrect, and the mistake may have been caused by hearing the contraction "must've."

Is it right to say "irregardless?"

While "irregardless" may actually exist as a word, it is not widely used due to how it is constructed. Linguists frown upon the double negative that the prefix "ir" and suffix "less" form; that's why it's best to use "regardless" instead, which already states a negative thought that means "without regard."

When responding to grateful people who give thanks, what do you reply?

The right reply should be "You're welcome," where "you're" is a contraction of "you are." But many people often say "Your welcome," misusing the second person possessive pronoun.

Possessively speaking, do you say "himself" or "hisself?"

When referring to a reflexive masculine pronoun, "himself" is the one often used. While "hisself" legitimately exists somewhere in the English lexicon, its usage is frowned upon, and therefore not advisable to use.

When referring to just one dollar, which article could you use before the currency?

Since it's only one dollar being referred to, the proper article to use is the singular one. It should be "a" because it refers to a word that starts with a consonant. Therefore, "a dollar" is correct.

In the USA, do you "colour" or "color?"

"Color" is the American English spelling while "colour" is the British English spelling. Therefore, when in the USA, use their English usage - no ifs and buts about this!

Fill in the blank: First come, first ___.

The proper way to say this often misheard idiomatic expression is "first come, first served." It means those who arrive first will be the first ones to get serviced.

Do you like it when you are given "free rein" or "free reign" by your boss?

The right term to use is "free rein," which pertains to being given the freedom or liberty to move or make decisions and take certain actions. It originates from the noun "rein" or those straps used to control and guide a horse.

Is it right to say "ten year anniversary?"

"Anniversary" already pertains to the annual or yearly event, so just mention how many years, in ordinal form, when using this term. The proper way of saying this example is "tenth anniversary."

When you say “She want you," what is in disagreement here?

The subject-verb agreement in this statement is incorrect because the verb should be similar to the subject's number. Thus, since "she" is singular, "wants" should be used, like so: "She wants you."

What is the plural form of equipment?

"Equipment" is another form of non-count noun. The same word is used for the plural form.

Choose the right term: Knut __ from Norway. Knut ___ to the USA from Norway.

The terms to use are: Knut "emigrated" from Norway, and Knut "immigrated" to the USA from Norway. One emigrates away from a certain place, and one immigrates to a specific destination.

When referring to __ ant, which article should you use?

The indefinite article "an" should be used here since it refers to a noun that starts with a vowel. "A" should be used if the noun starts with a consonant.

We buy fragrant essential oils, but do we also say "crude oils?"

"Oil" is an example of a variable noun, which means it can be both a countable noun and non-count noun, depending on the context. In "crude oil," it's in the context of a non-count noun; therefore, it should be "oil" only. If specifics are used, like in "essential oils" or "painting with oils," an "s" is added because it's countable.

What’s the plural of “advice?”

Just like the word "evidence," "advice" is considered an uncountable noun. Therefore, it has its original form as its plural form, or you can place qualifiers before it to make it countable, such as "pieces of advice."

Is it "a mute point" or "a moot point?"

"Mute" means to be quiet while "moot" means something is subject for debate. Thus, it should be "moot point" because it suggests to debate on a certain thing.

When traveling, do we say “baggages” and “luggages?”

Both baggage and luggage are uncountable nouns. They do not have plural forms, so adding an "s" is ungrammatical.

Fill in the blanks: “If __ too good to be true, __ probably is!"

The answer should be "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." "It's" is a contraction of "it is" in this case, so it should have an apostrophe.

How do we say it? “You would __ made it better.”

"Would have" is the right answer here, but most people would mention "would of." This mistake is a corruption of the sound of "would've," which is short for "would have."

A common error in supermarkets is having the sign “10 items or less.” How will you correct this?

When you can count things one by one, the term to use should be "fewer" since "less" is used to refer to things you can't individually count. Therefore, having "10 items or fewer" or "fewer than 10 items" should be the proper usage here.

Would you take a "sneak peak" or a "sneak peek?"

Taking a "sneak peek" means looking at something before a big revelation, so it's the proper term to use here. "Peak" means the top of a mountain or high elevation, and you don't want to sneak there, at all.

Fill in the blanks: “You were more __ enough, but __ he came into my life.”

The first word should be "than" because it's a comparison of two people. The second term is "then" because that part of the sentence indicates some sort of time passage.

Choose the right way to say this: Leave it to ___ to look into the matter later.

When using the first person singular form of "me" in conjunction with another name, it should always be put after the proper noun name. Therefore, in this usage, it should be "Sam and me."

When referring to something specific, which article should you use?

"The" is the article that should be used when pointing at something specific. It's like saying "This is the car for me" upon seeing a Mini, instead of saying "This is a car for me," which connotes uncertainty.

As James Blunt sang, “__ beautiful, it’s true.”

The song lyric uses the contraction "you're," which means "you are." It's not "your" only, which many people mistakenly use.

Do you find yourself in the "throws of passion" or the "throes of passion?"

The right expression is "throes of passion" because it means being caught at the intense point of some struggle. To throw means to discard it, which is quite the opposite.

Do you send an "invite" or an "invitation?"

You send out an invitation, because that's the noun. "To invite" is to ask someone to come, therefore it's a verb.

When sending a letter to an unknown recipient, we write this: “To __ it may concern."

Whom is a relative pronoun, and is often used as the direct object of a preposition or a verb. In this usage, it should be "To whom."

Fill in the blanks: “When the new law takes __, it will __ the poorest communities.”

A new law will take effect, meaning something will happen that will influence something. For the verb that refers to being influenced, you say "it will affect" the population concerned.

Guess the term: Do you also wait with ___ breath?

We wait with bated breath, meaning your breathing is affected, to the point of nearly stopping it, because of an intense emotion. It's Shakespearean in nature and origin, that's why it sounds poetic and literary, too.

Place the proper usage: “Francis __ here for five years.”

"Has been working" is the proper term here. It is an example of a present perfect continuous tense, wherein an action started in the past but is still continuing in the present time.

Do we write “followup” as one word?

"Follow-up" is used as a noun, whereas "follow up" is used as a verb. Followup as one word might be obvious in some social media postings, but it is not the correct form of this term, and therefore should not be used.

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