Grammar Quiz

I reproduce the following quiz from a bought copy of The Times.

There are twenty five sentences, grouped into five categories. The question is the same each time : “Is this sentence grammatically correct?”

The answers are at the end.

The Times Grammar Quiz – Compiled by Oliver Kamm


1.The greedy columnist ate all his colleagues’ blueberry muffins.

2.The greedy columnist ate all his colleague’s blueberry muffins.

3.Would you please tell me where the blueberry muffins have gone.

4.The legislation helped to advance disabled peoples’ rights.

5. The UN Genocide Convention defends threatened peoples’ existence.

Quantity and Number

6.The greedy columnist would be feeling less ill if he had eaten less blueberry muffins.

7.Neither the greedy columnist nor his irate colleague are likely to forget how quickly the blueberry muffins vanished.

8. The difficulty of reconciling competing claims to national self-determination and establishing a Palestinian state while ensuring Israeli security have confounded the efforts of international negotiators.

9. To maintain that imposing longer prison sentences and levying harsher fines will reduce crime is not supported by recent history.

10. Extending the maturity of Greek Government debt and reducing the interest on it are unlikely to resolve the crisis.


11. The greedy columnist, who his colleagues believed could eat no more blueberry muffins, surprised them again.

12. As America’s economic recovery continues to be slow, the willingness of the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low will bring reassurance not only to President Obama but to whomever occupies the White House after 2012.

13. It was he who gave the columnist a final warning about eating all the blueberry muffins.

14. Let us divide the last blueberry muffin between you and I.

15 Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Participles and Gerunds

16. It was a joy to see him having such a good time.

17. Stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once.

18 The Prime Minister is unlikely to announce his going before the next General Election.

19. Having bought a large pack of blueberry muffins to replace the ones I ate, they look delicious.

20.Having said that, I agree that it would be imprudent of me to eat them all.


21. The Editor has not yet demanded that the greedy columnist submit his resignation.

22. If the Prime Minister were to call a general election next week, he would probably win a majority.

23. The Queen lay a wreath at the annual commemoration of Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph.

24. If President Mubarak had governed less repressively, he may not have lost power.

25. Anti-clerical campaigners assembled to protest the Pope’s visit.


1. Yes

2. Yes

3. No (requires question mark)

4. No (People is plural noun, so apostrophe should be before the “s”)

5. Yes

6. No ( “fewer” not “less” blueberry muffins)

7. No (“is” not “are”)

8. No (“Has” not “have”)

9. Yes

10. Yes

11. Yes

12. No ( “whoever” not “whomever”)

13. Yes

14. No (“between you and me”)

15. No ( a common mangling of John’s Gospel: “He that is without sin among you, let him cast a stone at her”)

16. Yes

17. Yes

18. Yes

19. No (The participle “having” is unattched to a noun)

20. Yes

21. Yes.

22. Yes.

23. No (“laid” not “lay”)

24. No (“might” not “may”)

25. No (the verb “to protest” means to assert something against those who would deny it, as in “to protest his innocence”: but you can say “protest against”)

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Grammar Quiz

  1. I got only one wrong, and I dispute it. No. 15 may be a mangling of St.John’s Gospel, but it looks perfectly grammatical to me.

  2. Janet Smith says:

    I agree David. No. 15 is grammatically correct. It is also more elegant that the ‘unmangled’ sentence provided..

  3. garylongden says:

    I am inclined to agree with you both. I have asked the Taylors for an opinion, and shall report back.

  4. I get terribly anxious about making a grammatical error in a sentence about grammar, don’t you? Sentences 4 and 5 might be grammatically correct but I’d prefer to read “The legislation helped to advance the rights of disabled people” and “The UN Genocide Convention defends the existence of threatened peoples”. I agree with David and Janet on 15.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s