Writing Practice Questions
Read the following sentences and select the choice that best replaces the underlined section. If the underlined section is correct as is, choose option A.
1. Hours of driving laid ahead of us.
B. have lain
D. has lay
2. By the time we get to the picnic area, the rain will stop.
A. will stop
B. shall stop
C. will has stopped
D. shall have stopped
E. will have stopped
3. If Judy would not have missed the deadline, the yearbook delivery would have been on time.
A. would not have missed
B. should have not missed
C. wouldn't have missed
D. had not missed
E. would have not missed
4. We spent Sunday afternoon wandering aimless in the park.
A. wandering aimless
B. wandering aimlessly
C. wandering without purpose
D. wandering in an aimless manner
E. wandering almost aimlessly
5. Only after I went home did I remember my dental appointment.
A. went home
B. had went home
C. got home
D. gone home
E. should go home
6. The book lay open at page 77.
A. lay open
B. laid open
C. lied open
D. lain open
E. was laid open
7. By this time next year, Johanna will begin classes at the University of Colorado.
A. will begin classes
B. will have begun classes
C. has began classes
D. should begin classes
E. should have begun classes
8. After comparing my air conditioner with the one on sale, I decided that mine was the most efficient.
A. was the most efficient.
B. should be the most efficient.
C. was the more efficient.
D. was by far the most efficient.
E. should be considered the most efficient.
9. I would have liked to have gone swimming yesterday.
A. to have gone swimming
B. to go swimming
C. to had gone swimming
D. to go to swim
E. to of gone swimming
10. I wish I read the chapter before I tried to answer the questions.
A. read the chapter
B. would read the chapter
C. should of read the chapter
D. could have read the chapter
E. had read the chapter
11. Nathanael West said that he'd never have written his satirical novel if he had not visited Hollywood.
A. have written his
B. would have written his
C. could of written his
D. could have written his
E. should of written his
12. The smell from the paper mill laid over the town like a blanket.
B. has lain
C. will lie
E. has laid
13. When I was halfway down the stairs, I suddenly knew what I had wanted to have said.
A. to have said
B. too say
C. to have been said
D. to had say
E. to say
14. I would be more careful if I had been you.
A. had been
B. would have been
E. could have been
15. They read where the governor has appointed a special committee to improve the school calendar.
D. of where
16. In study hall I sit besides Paul Smith, who is captain of the swim team and one of the best swimmers in the state.
A. sit besides
B. sat beside
C. have set beside
D. sit beside
E. have sit beside
17. Anna Karenina has been read with enjoyment for over 100 years.
A. has been read
B. will have been read
C. shall have been read
D. is being read
E. was read
18. Many 19th-century biographers rely on their imaginations, not on real facts.
A. rely on their imaginations,
B. relied on their imaginations,
C. have relied on their imaginations
D. could have relied on their imaginations,
E. could rely on their imaginations:
19. The private lives of politicians, generals, and other notables fascinates the reading public.
A. fascinates the reading
B. have fascinated the reading
C. will fascinate the reading
D. fascinate the reading
E. has fascinate the reading
20. The small man chose a seat near the door and carefully sat down.
B. will sit
C. could of sat
D. have sit down
E. set down
21. Last summer I worked in the chemical laboratory at the Brass Company; most of the work came into the lab for testing marked with the words top priority.
A. words top priority.
B. words-top priority.
C. words: Top priority.
D. words, "Top Priority."
E. words "top priority."
Answers and Explanations
1. C: The past tense of "to lie" is "lay." "Laid" (A) is the past tense of transitive "to lay," e.g. "He laid the books on the table." Present perfect "have lain" (B) makes no sense in this sentence. "Has lay" (D) is a nonexistent construction: present perfect is "has lain;" moreover, "has" is singular whereas the subject "hours" is plural. "Lie" (E) changes the meaning to present tense.
2. E: Future perfect "will have stopped" is correct with "By the time..." Simple future "Will stop" (A) would agree with "When we get to the picnic area," but "by the time" indicates something already completed (=perfect), which in this case is predicted (=future). "Shall" [(B), (D)] is an auxiliary verb similar to "will." Future perfect is "will have;" there is no such construction as "will has" (C).
3. D: In conditional-subjunctive ("If...then...") constructions like this, the conditional is "If Judy had not missed the deadline..." The auxiliary "would" is never used in the conditional, but only in the subjunctive portion ("...the yearbook delivery would have been on time").
4. B: The verb "wandering" is modified by the adverb "aimlessly." "Aimless" is an adjective and would only modify a noun. "Without purpose" (C) unnecessarily substitutes a two-word synonym. "In an aimless manner" (D) is awkward verbiage paraphrasing "aimlessly." Adding "almost" (E) changes the meaning.
5. C: "Got home" means arrived home and indicates the process of going home was completed. "Went home" (A) connotes a process rather than its completion: we might remember the appointment during a process, e.g. "Only while I was going home/on my way home" but cannot do something "after" an ongoing event. There is no such construction as "had went" (B); "had gone" is correct. "Gone" without "had" (D) is incorrect. "Should" (E) is a modal auxiliary verb with "go" meaning "I ought to go home," completely incorrect with "Only after..."
6. A: "Lay" is past tense of intransitive "lie", meaning rested/was situated. "Laid" (B) is only transitive, e.g. "I laid the book open." "Lied" (C) is only past tense of "lie," meaning deceive/prevaricate/fib. The book could have "lied" by containing false information, but not "lied open." Past perfect "lain" (D) would only be correct with an auxiliary verb, e.g. "The book has lain open all day." Passive voice "was laid" (E) changes the meaning.
7. B: Future perfect tense predicts something that will be completed, signaled by the phrase, "By this time next year." Simple future tense "will begin" (A) would go with "Next year" or "At this time next year." There is no such construction as "has began" (C). Even corrected, present perfect "has begun" disagrees with the future "next year." "Should begin" (D) and "Should have begun" (E) change the meaning.
8. C: The comparative ("-er/more") compares two things. The superlative ("-est/most") is only used when comparing more than two things.
9. A: This sentence is correct as written. "Yesterday" is in the past and "would" is subjunctive, dictating the infinitive form of the present perfect, "to have done," here. The infinitive "to go" [(B), (D)] does not agree with "would have liked" and "yesterday." There is no such construction as "to had gone" (C) or "to of gone" (E).
10. E: When expressing regret about the past ("before"), use past perfect "I wish I had read." Simple past (A) expresses a regret/wish for the present/future, e.g. "I wish I read English," meaning I don't read English. "I wish I would" (B) means present-now or generally, e.g., "I wish I would read the chapter before I try." "Should" is incorrect with "I wish," "should of" (C) nonexistent. "Could have" (D) changes the meaning, also requiring "before I had tried."
11. A: This is correct as written. (B) has the opposite meaning (he would have written vs. he would never have written). There is no such construction as "could of" (C). "Could have" (D) changes the meaning. There is no such construction as "should of" (E).
12. D: The past tense of intransitive verb "to lie," meaning to rest or be situated, is "lay." "Laid"/"has laid" [(A)/(E)] is past tense/present perfect tense only for the transitive verb, e.g. "The paper mill laid/has laid a smell over the town." There is no contextual reason to use present perfect "has lain" (B) or future "will lie" (C) in this sentence.
13. E: With the predicate "had wanted" already in the past perfect tense, the correct modifying prepositional phrase is "to say." "What I had wanted to have said" (A) or "what I had wanted to have been said" (C) is redundant. Additionally, passive voice (C) implies I would have wanted someone else to say it. The preposition "to" meaning "for the purpose of" is used with infinitives. The spelling "too" (B) means "also." "To had say" (D) has no meaning.
14. D: "If I were* you," a common conventional expression, is grammatically correct in using the conditional. The past perfect "had been" (A) is incorrect. "Would" (B) or "could" (E) is only used in the subjunctive (not conditional) half of conditional-subjunctive constructions ("I would be more careful"). *The conditional always uses "were" regardless of number, never "was" (C).
15. B: "They read how" or "They read that" are correct. "Where" (A) is a common incorrect usage. An adverb is not used as a conjunction. Adding the preposition "of" before it (D) does not correct the error but only compounds it. "Were" (C), past tense of the verb "to be," does not apply here. "Wear" (E) is a verb meaning to dress in (we wear clothes) or erode/deteriorate (weather wears away rock/machine parts wear out eventually).
16. D: "Beside" means next to or alongside of. "Besides" (A) means anyway, moreover, or except (+ object, e.g. "everybody except Paul") and is incorrect here. Past tense "sat" (B) disagrees with present tense "is captain." "Have" [(C), (E)] indicates present perfect, also disagreeing. Moreover, even if the tenses agreed, the present perfect of "to sit" is "have sat," NOT "have set" (C) or "have sit" (E).
17. A: This is correct as written, in present perfect tense. Future perfect [(B), (C)] is incorrect because it means the novel has not yet been read for over 100 years but will be in the future, whereas it has already been read for that long. Present progressive/continuous (D) is incompatible with "for over 100 years." ("Is being read" can only be "now"/"currently"/"presently," etc.) "Was read" (E) alters the meaning, indicating it is no longer read now.
18. B: 19th-century biographers are all deceased now and cannot "rely" (A) in the present tense; they relied in the past. Present perfect "have relied" (C) also implies they are still living. Additionally, this choice's omission of the necessary comma would create a run-on sentence. Subjunctive "could have relied" (D) changes the meaning completely. So does (E), which also incorrectly punctuates with a colon instead of a comma.
19. D: The subject "lives" is plural, taking the verb "fascinate." The singular "fascinates" (A) is incorrect, creating subject-verb disagreement. Past perfect "have fascinated" (B) wrongly implies they no longer do so. Future "will fascinate" (C) incorrectly means they do not do so now. There is no such construction as (E): in present perfect (which here should be "have," NOT "has"), the verb form must be "fascinated."
20. A: This is correct as written, in simple past tense. "Will sit" (B) is future, disagreeing with "chose." There is no such construction as "could of" (C). Even corrected, "could have" has no meaning here: "The...man...carefully could have sat down" makes no sense. There is no such construction as "have sit" (D). "Set" (E) is NOT the past tense of "to sit" but a different, transitive verb, e.g. "He set down his package on the table."
21. D: From the sentence context, the phrase "marked with the words" indicates that the words referenced should be enclosed in quotation marks to set them off within the sentence. Labels (as in this example), titles, names, inscriptions, people's utterances, etc.-anything quoted-needs quotation marks. Quotations within sentences are introduced by a comma. No punctuation (A), a dash (B), a colon (C), and quotation marks but no comma (E) are all incorrect.
by Enoch Morrison
Last Updated: 04/12/2016