Standard English - What is the Word? (Part 1)
Timothy’s favorite pastime is biking.

Standard English - What is the Word? (Part 1)

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For years now in school you have been learning about words. You have learned that some words are nouns, some are possessive nouns, some words are verbs, some are prepositions, some are adverbs, some are adjectives, some are participles, some are gerunds and some are infinitives.

You have learned that they can be similes, homonyms, synonyms and antonyms. It seems like there was no end to what words can be. My goodness, how do you keep all that information straight in your head, especially now, as you have advanced to a higher grade and less emphasis is placed on knowing about the words and is instead placed on writing with words? The answer is simple - practice, practice, practice and review, review and review.

This quiz [Part 1] and a second quiz [Part 2] are going to challenge you to see if you still remember words and their value when used in sentences. It is important to revisit the value of words time and time again throughout your life because, as we get older, we tend to get a little lazy with our writing and communication skills. However, if we take the time to run through a few refresher courses or quizzes every now and then, the quality of one’s writing will maintain a higher degree of excellence. And, if you ever want to learn another language, just understanding words and how they work in a sentence will help you master that new language far faster and easier than if you dismiss or become lazy on the value of each word.

So take a look at the following 10 sentences. Each sentence has a word or words that are underlined. See if you can find the right kind of word it is from the list of answers provided.

1.
Timothy’s favorite pastime is biking.
Adverb
Gerund
Verb
Participle
An adverb modifies or describes a verb. The underlined word, biking, does not do this. It is a verb but in this sentence it is not being used as a verb as it does not show action. A participle is a verb ending in “ing” or the past tense version of the verb and is used as an adjective. Although biking ends in “ing” it is not being used as an adjective. A gerund is a verb ending in “ing” and is being used as a noun. In this sentence, biking is being used as a noun in that Timothy’s favorite pastime is “biking.” Answer (b) is the correct answer here
2.
Jethro quickly ran by each competitor to win first place in the 500 yard dash.
Adjective
Pronoun
Preposition
Adverb
An adjective is a word that describes, identifies or further defines a noun or a pronoun but the underlined word, quickly, does not do this. A pronoun is a word that replaces one or more nouns and quickly certainly does not fall in that category nor is it a preposition because it does not show the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. That leaves us with an adverb. An adverb describes or modifies a verb. The verb is “ran.” How did Jethro run? He ran “quickly.” Adverbs frequently end with a “ly.” The correct answer is, therefore, Answer (d)
3.
My heart leaped when he proposed to me!
Verb
Gerund
Preposition
Adjective
A gerund is an “ing” verb that acts as a noun. There are no “ing” words in this sentence. A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. The underlined word, leaped, does not do this. An adjective is a word that describes, identifies or further defines a noun or a pronoun so that too is not what our underlined word does. On the other hand, a verb is a word that shows action. As the heart “leaped,” this clearly shows an action. Answer (a) is the correct answer
4.
She has the ugliest hairdo that I have ever seen.
Participle
Gerund
Adverb
Adjective
A participle is a verb that ends in “ing” or the past tense of the verb and acts as an adjective. We do not have that here in this sentence. A gerund is a verb with an “ing” ending that is acting as a noun. Again, we do not have any “ing” words in this sentence. An adverb is a word that describes or modifies a verb. The underlined word, ugliest, does not modify or describe a verb so it is not an adverb. However, it does describe a noun (hairdo) making it an adjective. Answer (d) is the correct answer needed here
5.
He was happy to lend his brother a few dollars.
Conjunction
Participle
Gerund
Infinitive
A conjunction is a word (or group of words) that is used to connect other words, phrases, clauses or sentences together. Clearly the underlined words, to lend, do not do this. A participle is a verb that ends in “ing” or the past tense of the verb and acts as an adjective. We do not have that here in this sentence. A gerund is a verb with an “ing” ending that is acting as a noun. Again, we do not have any “ing” words in this sentence. An infinitive is a verb with the word “to” in front of it and that is what we have here. Answer (d) is the correct answer
6.
His job was the easiest compared to everyone else.
Pronoun
Noun
Participle
Adjective
Let’s look at what a pronoun is first. A pronoun is a word that replaces one or more nouns. We do not know who the person “his” refers to but it is clearly replacing a common name of a person. A person we have learned is a noun. Therefore, we can now quickly eliminate Answers (b), (c) and (d). Answer (a) is the correct answer
7.
Martha, Alice and Kay were on the blue team and Jackie, Felicia and Patty were on the green team.
Preposition
Adverb
Conjunction
Noun
A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. The underlined word, and, does not show a relationship. An adverb describes or modifies a verb. The word “and” is not a verb nor is it a noun. A conjunction is a word (or group of words) that is used to connect other words, phrases, clauses or sentences together. Here we have two simple sentences, i.e., “Martha, Alice and Kay were on the blue team” and “Jackie, Felicia and Patty were on the green team.” These two simple sentences are connected by the underlined word and making it a conjunction. Answer (c) is the correct answer
8.
Joseph was playing with his cousins.
Linking verb
Preposition
Noun
Possessive noun
The underlined word, with, is not a verb so it cannot be a linking verb. It is also not a noun. If it is not a noun, it cannot be a possessive noun. That leaves us with a preposition. A preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. In this sentence, the underlined word, with, shows the relationship between Joseph and his cousins. Answer (b) is the correct answer
9.
Miranda gingerly sat down on the old bench in the back of the church.
Adverb
Noun
Preposition
Adjective
The underlined word is bench. It is not an adverb because an adverb describes or modifies the meaning of a verb. It is also not a preposition as a preposition is a word that shows the relationship between a noun or pronoun and other words in a sentence. Additionally, it is not an adjective as an adjective is a word that describes, identifies or further defines a noun or a pronoun. On the other hand, a noun is either a person, a place or a thing. A bench is a thing making Answer (b) the correct answer
10.
The hiking trail was much steeper than it had first appeared.
Gerund
Adverb
Participle
Infinitive
Looking at the underlined word, hiking, we know that it is not a gerund because a gerund is an “ing” verb that acts as a noun. Hiking is not being used as a noun here. It is also not an adverb as an adverb describes or modifies a verb. An infinitive is when the word “to” is placed before a verb, i.e., “to” go. We do not see that here. So let’s find the first noun. That noun is “trail.” Now, what kind of trail is it? It’s a “hiking” trail. Therefore, hiking is being used as an adjective. When a verb is used as an adjective it is a participle. Answer (c) is the correct answer here
Author:  Christine G. Broome

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