These Grammar MCQ questions are in almost EVERY upper primary / PSLE Paper 2 Booklet A. Why is that so? Mostly because students KEEP GETTING THEM WRONG! Learn to spot them, know WHY they are tested, and get full marks for EVERY Grammar MCQ section from now on!
1. Verbs/Tenses (Agreement): These form the bulk of Grammar MCQ, because there are just SO many ways you can test Subject Verb Agreement. For upper primary students you won’t find those easy present/past tense ones anymore, but trickier ones like these!
A. Perfect Tenses
These are often found in Grammar MCQ because students are not very familiar with them, and easily confuse them with simple present/past
- Present Perfect – Has/Have + Verb (Past Participle)
Look out for keywords like ‘since’.
e.g. The boys have not eaten since morning
e.g. Jack and John have known each other since they were kids.
- Past perfect – Had + Verb (Past Participle)
The PAST PERFECT TENSE indicates that an action was completed (finished or “perfected”) at some point in the past before something else happened. This tense is formed with the past tense form of “to have” (HAD) plus the past participle of the verb (which can be either regular or irregular in form
What this basically means is when TWO actions happen in the past (two verbs in a sentence set in the past), the one that happens FIRST must take the PAST Perfect tense.
e.g. By the time we arrived, Jack had eaten all the pizza. (Jack ate all the pizza before we arrived)
e.g. When the police got to the scene, the burglar had already escaped. (The burglar escaped, then the police arrived.)
B. Either…or / Neither…nor
These are commonly asked because students are not sure of the agreement, do they choose singular or plural, as there are usually more than one subject/noun in the sentence.
e.g. Neither Jack nor the girls (is/are) coming for the party.
The correct answer is ‘ARE’, because of the Rule of Proximity (noun closest to the verb) and since GIRLS is plural, the verb that follows must be plural.
Do NOT confuse these type of questions with Either/Neither/None questions! These are also popular because they are singular and carry singular verbs, but often sound like they should care plural verbs.
e.g. Neither of the boys is coming to school.
C. Verbs of Perception / Verbs of Obligation/permission
These are probably THE most popular, and continue to confuse adults to this day!
Hear, see, watch, notice and similar verbs of perception can be followed by object + infinitive without to or object + -ing form. There is usually a difference of meaning between the two structures. The infinitive is used after these verbs when we want to say that we hear or see the whole of an action or event.
Typically, these verbs will be asked in the past tense.
E.g. Heard, Saw, Watched, Noticed etc, to further confuse students (since those are in the past tense, students are taught to change all verbs to past tense too!)
I heard Tommy + cry / crying (No ‘s’, No ‘ed’)
I saw Tommy + cheat / cheating (No ‘s’, No ‘ed’)
I observed Tommy + hide / hiding (No ‘s’, No ‘ed’)
I felt the ground + shake/shaking (No ‘s’, No ‘ed’)
For Verbs of Obligation/Permission, they are usually:
e.g. Made, Let
I made Tommy + cry (No ‘s’, No ‘ed’, No ‘ing’)
Mother let Tommy + help (No ‘s’, No ‘ed’, No ‘ing’)
D. As well as / together with / in addition to / not to mention
Another perennial favourite, these phrases (especially the first two), are often used to trick students into thinking the subject agreement is PLURAL!
e.g John, as well as his parents, (is/are) coming for the party.
The correct answer is of course ‘IS’, because the phrase ‘as well as his parents’ is parenthetical, and the TRUE subject of the sentence is Jack. The same applies to the rest of the phrases.
Stay Tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, QUESTION TAGS!