English 336: Linguistics
Pretest on Sentence Structure

Compiled by
Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Associate Professor of English
Ferrum College
Linguistics Home Page

• These exercises are intended to test your familiarity with basic grammatical structures and sentence types. If you have trouble doing these exercises, you should do more review so that you will be better prepared when we discuss "parts of speech" or word classes and syntax.  Do as many of these exercises as you want for optional homework.

• Don't get help from anyone when you do these exercises. They will not affect your final grade in this course (except that you get checkmarks for completing assigned and optional homework assignments), but they will give you and the professor a realistic picture of how familiar you are now with some basics of English grammar.

• Consult a dictionary or handbook only as a last resort, if you can't complete an exercise because you are not familiar with the terminology. For example, you can't do the exercise on active/passive voice if you don't recall what that means, but you may be able to look in a handbook to review the basic difference between active and passive and then do the exercise. If you do consult any sources, write on your exercises what you looked up and where you found it.

• These exercises use traditional terminology for sentence parts and types, and in a few cases indicate alternate terms used for the same structures. You will find that different books may use different terms and methods of analyzing sentences. As our discussion of syntax progresses we will be using some terminology and methods of classifying words and grammatical structures that have been developed by contemporary grammarians.

For other resources on proofreading and language, see Ferrum College Writing Center.

I.  Sentence Types

A. Under each sentence indicate whether it is:
(a) simple, compound, complex or compound-complex
(b) declarative, interrogative, or imperative

1. He had discarded the forgotten document, apparently intentionally.

(a)

(b)

2. The old rooms where we had our offices were large, but they were too hot.

(a)

(b)

3. Look for the blankets in the closet which is downstairs.

(a)

(b)

4. While they worked outside, I was watching from the window in my office for hours.

(a)

(b)

5. Could the children have been lying about the broken glass?

(a)

(b)

6. Lovers are so foolish when they believe love will last forever.

(a)

(b)

7. Now draw me a sheep on this sheet of paper with a crayon.

(a)

(b)

8. Where have you been and why are you late?

(a)

(b)

9. By next week school will have started, and we will be studying every day.

(a)

(b)

10. The owl and the pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat.

(a)

(b)

B. Voice. Identify each of the following sentences as active or passive voice.

1. Dogs and cats should not be used by scientists to test chemicals for products as trivial as cosmetics.


2. Joshua carved the delicate chess pieces for his woodcraft project.


3. Thousands of people, mostly the poor, have been left homeless by urban redevelopment.


4. Litter of all kinds—paper plates, plastic utensils, paper napkins, and food wrappers—was scattered in the park at the end of the day.


5. People with respiratory ailments should not shovel snow.

II.  Parts of Speech (or Word Classes)

Above each underlined word, provide one of the following "part of speech" or word class labels: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective (don't include articles), adverb, article, preposition, coordinate conjunction, subordinate conjunction.


1. He had discarded the forgotten document, apparently intentionally.

2. The old rooms where we had our offices were large, but they were too hot.

3. Lovers are so foolish if they believe love will last forever.

4. Now draw me a sheep on this sheet of paper with a purple crayon.

5. Where have you been and why are you late? What is your name?

6. By next week, we will be studying every day because school will have started.

III.  Grammatical Functions of Sentence Parts

A.  Above each underlined word or phrase provide one of the following function labels: subject, direct object, indirect object, object of preposition, predicate nominative (also called subject complement), appositive, complete predicate, verb, adjective, adverb.


1. The old rooms where we were meeting were large, but they were too hot.


2. Look for the extra blankets in the closet which is downstairs.


3. Inevitably, this annoying printer gives us frequent headaches.


4. While they worked outside, I was watching them from the window in my office.


5. Those extremely cute boys, Justin and Christopher, are my nephews who live in Florida.


6. Where have you been and why are you wearing those pants with red stripes?

B.  Basic Sentence Elements

Identify each of the underlined elements as a subject, verb, object, or complement by writing the appropriate letter above it (S, V, O, or C). (Complements include predicate adjectives and predicate nominatives.)

1. They  tried  it  and  it  worked.

2. Nobody  likes  her;  she  is  too  sarcastic.

3. That dog looks vicious.

4. Those who trust you will not need an explanation.

5. I doubt that he will go, but I'll ask him.

6. Did you get the tickets?

7. Part of the sentence  is  illegible.

8. They paid you a compliment.

9. The trouble with Joe is that he is too sensitive.

10. We discovered who took the candy.


IV.  Types of Phrases

Above each of the underlined phrases, indicate whether it is a noun phrase, verb phrase, or prepositional phrase.


1. He had discarded the forgotten document, apparently intentionally.


2. All the people who lived in that house moved to Minnesota.

3. The children could have been lying to us about the broken glass.

4. My uncle is that elderly man with the beard.

5. By next week school will have started, and we will be studying every day.

 

V.  Verbs and Verbals

A. Underline each verb form in the following sentence. Above each one tell whether it is a main verb, auxiliary verb, infinitive, participial modifier, or gerund. Then under each main verb tell whether it is a transitive, intransitive, or linking verb. Under each infinitive and gerund tell whether it functions as a subject, object, or predicate nominative (also called subject complement).

                       participle          aux.   main verb                                    gerund                    aux.   main verb 

Example:  The annoying  child  is   throwing  paper  everywhere,  so  taking  her  outside  would  be  advisable.
                                                        transitive                                   subject                             linking  

1. Nobody wants to tell him.

 

2. That drunken man is becoming a bore.



3. Those students enjoy their reading late at night.



4. To play that well requires too much practice.



5. One energizing sport for the elderly is swimming.



6. Disappointed by the results, he gave up the experiment.



7. With screeching brakes, the car came to a jarring stop.



8. That will take some thinking.



9. Not to have invited her would have caused trouble.



10. Feeling sorry for yourself can not solve the problem.


B.  Verb Tenses
Identify each of the underlined verbs or verb phrases with one of the following grammatical tense labels: present, past, future, present perfect, past perfect, future perfect, present progressive, past progressive, future progressive.

1. He had discarded the forgotten document, apparently intentionally.



2. The old rooms where we had our offices were large, but they were too hot.


3. While they worked outside, I was watching from the window in my office for hours.


4. Lovers are so foolish when they believe love will last forever.


5. We have seen the movie five times, but we are thinking about seeing it again.


6. By next week school will have started, and we will be studying every day.


VI.  Types of Clauses

Put square brackets around each independent clause and parentheses around each dependent (or subordinate or embedded) clause. Above or next to each dependent clause indicate whether its function is nominal (noun clause), adjectival (including relative clauses), or adverbial (adverb clause).

                  adverbial                                           adjectival                     nominal (noun clause is direct object)
Example: (After they returned,) [the children (who had eaten) played (whatever they liked.)]

1. Before a Phisohex bathing program was introduced, many infants were stricken by staph infections shortly after birth.


2. What he told me is none of your business.


3. In 1973 Twyla Tharp introduced the ballet Deuce Coupe, which used the doubly delightful background of music

by the Beach Boys and six graffitists shooting spray cans at panels.


4. In a ravine she went where a spring was silently flowing through a hollow log.


5. The book that I bought cost eight dollars.


6. This is the book that I want.

 

7. I will do whatever you say.


8. What could he and she really know of each other, since it was his duty, as a "decent" fellow,

to conceal his past from her, and hers, as a marriageable girl, to have no past to conceal?


9. As she groped down the dark stairway she heard their voices rumbling above her.


10. The people who lived in that house moved to Minnesota.


11. If that is how you feel, why don't you leave?

 

12. He wondered whether his favorite team would win.

VII.  Common Sentence Structure Errors in Writing

Explain the grammatical error in each sentence below as precisely as you can and correct it.  What rules of standard English syntax are being violated in each sentence?

1. The dessert she baked for us tasted wonderfully.



2. Bruce polished his coins almost until they looked new.



3. Last night the stars seemed exceptional bright.



4. After sitting there awhile, snow began to fall, and we went in.



5. When it snows, we like to stay home and taking a break from work.



6. The professor explained why plagiarism is wrong on Monday.



7. Your mother or your sister should lend you their coat.



8. The arrangements for the convention was poorly organized.



9. The secretary was sorry he threw the document away three weeks before the trial.



10. I plan to swim several miles a week, therefore, I will be in good shape soon.



11. The whole truth being that she doesn't want to get up early.



12. Prepare to make an incision in the abdomen as soon as completely anesthetized.



13. Joe argued, when he compared himself to Jane, that he was smarter than her.



14. Since he has no money he can't go on the trip, he is very sad.



15. The horror that was felt by everyone when the earthquake hit.



16. Tropical plants and a painting makes the room more cheerful.



17. A professor has the painful duty of assigning low grades to some of their students' work.



18. The street is icy, dangerous, and an obstacle course of stalled cars.



19. Jacques was the only one of the skiers who were injured.



20. The movie was a prime example of uneducated Americans.



Examples with Nonstandard Features of Appalachian English (Some features occur in other dialects as well.)
If you want to use this list as an exercise, identify the nonstandard part of each sentence and translate into standard edited American English.

21. The witness commented that it was the worst accident ever she saw.



22. There was three machines in the room after we purchased the computer.



23. I've kept me a copy of the final report.


24. Please send ten pound of nails to the construction site.



25. Teach the patients how to give theirself the injections when they are well enough.



26. He asked her would she buy some ink for the printer.



27. We might should buy some more ink for the printer.



28. The papers have became wrinkled in the copier.



29. I've wrote to them five times about the overdue bill.



30. After the reconstruction of the kitchen is completed, this wall needs repaired.



31. Would you mind to proofread this paper for me?



32. Each of these students has a class to Dr. Bailey this semester.



33. The students who passed the course don't have errors in none of their papers.



34. There are some English majors say grammar is their favorite subject.



35. They had a consultant to come from Boston to help with the grant.