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Standard English
That's my new jumper. My mum gave it to me.

Standard English

Standard English is the variety of English which the majority of native speakers agree is 'correct'. Standard usage excludes ungrammatical structures along with dialect words, although many of these would have been correct in the past. This is the variety of English you will hear when watching the news or listening to Radio 4. You will be expected not only to recognise it, but also to write essays and exam answers using standard English.

See how well you can identify 'correct' English by trying this quiz.

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1.
He don't want to watch no more t.v. - Why is this sentence NOT standard English?
It has an example of double negation
The subject and verb do not agree
The subject and verb do not agree and there is an example of double negation
This sentence is in standard English
In standard English, 'he don't' would be 'he doesn't'; 'don't want no...' is an example of double negation
2.
Are yous coming with us? - Why is this sentence NOT standard English?
It has an example of double negation
The word order is non-standard
The pronoun has a plural ending
The sentence is in standard English
'Are you coming with us?' would be standard English
3.
I'm going to see me aunt. - Why is this sentence NOT standard English?
Another pronoun has been substituted for the possessive pronoun
It includes an abbreviation
The subject and verb do not agree
This sentence is in standard English
'I'm going to see my aunt' would be standard English
4.
He were down the shops when I phoned him. - Why is this sentence NOT standard English?
The subject and verb do not agree
The choice of preposition is non-standard
The choice of preposition is non-standard and the subject and verb do not agree
This sentence is in standard English
In standard English, 'he were' would be 'he was' and 'down' would be 'at'
5.
If I were retired, I would sail around the world. - Why is this sentence NOT standard English?
The subject and verb do not agree
A non-standard pronoun has been used
It includes an example of multiple negation
The sentence is in standard English
'If I were' is an example of a subjunctive. Although it is often replaced by 'if I was' in spoken English, 'if I were' is standard. You have probably heard the phrase 'if I were you...' - this is another, easily remembered, example of the subjunctive
6.
Where is she at? - Why is this sentence NOT standard English?
It has a non-standard choice of preposition
It has an additional, unnecessary preposition
The pronoun has a plural ending
This sentence is in standard English
The 'at' is redundant (unnecessary). 'Where is she?' would be standard English
7.
In which of these sentences has an adjective been used in place of an adverb?
Her manager told her to be quick because he wanted to go home
Her manager told her to clear up quickly
He had a reputation for firing slow workers
She cleared up and went out the door quick
The adjective 'quick' has been used in place of the adverb 'quickly' - this is a common feature of non-standard English
8.
Which of these displays a non-standard use of comparative adjectives?
You are more tired than I am
I am faster than he is
He is more cleverer than me
We are earlier than everyone else
'More clever' would be standard English
9.
Which of these is also evident in the answer to question eight?
Non-standard choice of pronoun
Double negation
Non-standard choice of preposition
The pronoun has a plural ending
Standard English would be: 'He is more clever than I.' You can easily tell that this is standard by adding the implied verb - He is more clever than I am - Keeping the word 'me' would sound like this: 'He is more clever than me is', which is obviously non-standard English
10.
Which of these is a non-standard example of leaving out a preposition?
We saw each other last week
That's my new jumper. My mum gave it me
She made me coffee this morning
I went to bed early last night
Each of these examples omits a preposition, but only the second is considered non-standard English. Standard English would be 'my mum gave it to me'
Author:  Sheri Smith

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