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Have we done it?

'Have we done it' tests you on past tense form.

English has a range of tenses for telling about past events. In each case here you need to pick the form best suited to the context.

  1. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'When I made those remarks about her hair, I didn't realise she ... ... from Jamaica.'
    ('I wasn't aware that she DID ... '); Answer 4 is also possible, since ~ presumably ~ 'she' is still just as much a Jamaican as she ever was.
    Answer 1 (in the Pluperfect, or Past Perfect) suggests that she had come from Jamaica ~ prior to when the speaker met her ~ and that she had had something special done to her hair while she was there.
    Answer 2 conveys a sense of the Imperfect, but it's wrong in this situation, suggesting only that she was somewhere along the middle of her journey away from Jamaica and maybe something had happened to her hair during that trip. This doesn't make very plausible sense, does it?
  2. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'Chris ... ... regularly in our pub darts team for several years, until he retired to the coast.'
    Answer 2 is also possible; Answer 1 would only work if he (or, indeed she) were still living locally, i.e. if the action ~ in this case, playing ~ were still ongoing.
    Answer 3 is possible too, in the sense that this was an ongoing and frequent habitual part of his life back then, but perhaps now his health and/or enthusiasm have declined and he would not be able to 'get back into the swing' in quite the old way.
    Answer 4 makes it clearest both that this was a habit, and that it is now over.
  3. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'He ... ... the saxophone since he lost interest in the classical clarinet.'
    The two Present forms (Answers 1 & 2) are possible in context, but do reflect the usage in many other languages ~ certainly both north and southern European languages ~ which say 'someone does something since a point in the past', because the action is still ongoing and therefore justifies the familiar present-tense form. English prefers the past continuous ('I have been doing jigsaws since I was young').
    Likewise, out of context there seems little justification for the emphatic/continuous form in Answer 4 (although there's a slight sense of 'grudging', perhaps from the parent/s who bought him the original instrument and paid for lessons, as though to say 'Well, at least the early start gave him a bit of technique, and let's be glad he is still actually making some use of that instead of dropping it completely'!)
  4. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'Women in bygone generations did not have the luxury of paid leave from their jobs while they ... ... their children.'
    Answer 2 is fair enough, but Answer 3 with its contrasting tenses (birth being more or less a single event, but upbringing taking noticeably longer) is even better stylistically.
    There are mis-formations in Answer 1 ('birthed' is clear enough but wrong; 'bought' is to do with Buying rather than Bringing ... don't let's explore that any further!) and Answer 4 (with no need for the Pluperfect).
  5. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'They ... ... asbestos into so many schools and hospitals, if they'd known back then how dangerous it ... ... .'
    'If they had realised, they would not have done it.'
    ' ... is' (Answer 2) is slightly better than '... was' (Answer 3), because asbestos remains dangerous even nowadays, and even if it's all removed and ceases to exist, the substance still retains that theoretical property. So the present tense remains 'universally true'.
    Any Answer including 'shouldn't have' will carry more of a moral force: 'they wouldn't have ...' suggests that the builders can't be faulted for not knowing what they couldn't then have known (what Donald Rumsfeld would have called 'unknown unknowns'); but 'shouldn't have' suggests that they ought not even to have started, whether or not they were sure.
  6. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'When I made those remarks about her hair, I didn't realise she ... ... back from a session of chemotherapy a couple of days beforehand.'
    We certainly do need the Pluperfect sense of 'come' here, because how her hair appeared was (presumably) a result of what had happened to her at a point further back into the past.
    None of these other forms is appropriate here, though they would probably be understood.
  7. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'How often ... ... occasion to speak to you before about your overly-flexible attitude to work hours in this office?'
    ('I have had to speak to you ...')
    Answer 2 is more a North American usage; Answer 3 is simply, though understandably, wrong (with its Imperfect / continuous form suggesting that such disciplinary meetings were indeed a fairly regular occurrence); Answer 4 is just about possible, but sounds very mannered and old-fashioned ~ no modern employee would take such a usage as seriously as the speaker would have meant or liked!
  8. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'Since they changed the town centre traffic system earlier this year, it ... ... me on average 12 minutes more to get to and from my work ~ that's two whole hours wasted every week!'
    Past continuous / progressive is the most elegant (and eloquent) tense here: it suggests that the extra journeys are typical, and cumulative, and they seem to be as bad as ever for the moment, but with a faint hope that they may improve at some point in the future when the system is put back as it was before (e.g. as with temporary roadworks).
    None of the other Answers is entirely wrong (even the present-tense ones, and despite this being a Quiz based on Past verb forms); but No.3 is clearly the most accurate and vivid.
  9. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    'But I ... ... , last thing yesterday evening!'
    Answer 2 is the most fluent in such a spoken context. The form without the auxiliary 'have' (see variants at Answers 1 & 3) is more an American usage, and perhaps also specifically Jewish (try reading them aloud, or in your head, in a Woody Allen voice ... except you'd also need to say 'trash' instead of 'rubbish'!). Answer 4 is fine, but perhaps a bit too formal or literary for such an everyday (or every-week!) topic.
  10. Choose the answer which best completes the sentence in suitable and accurate English.

    If there's one date that almost everyone knows in British history, it's that the last successful invasion of England was when William the Conqueror ... ... over in 1066.
    The simple past form is best for an over-and-done-with, one-off historical event.

Author: Ian Miles

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