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ESL Easy Quiz

That Wasn't So Hard - Negative Past Tenses

Quiz playing is a wonderful way to increase your knowledge of English as a Second Language. Remember that all of our ESL quizzes have titles that are both friendly and technical at the same time… In the case of this quiz you might like to tell your friends about “That Wasn’t So Hard” but no doubt your teachers will talk about the “Negative Past Tenses quiz”! If you hear a technical term and you want to find a quiz about the subject then just look through the list of quiz titles until you find what you need.

This quiz will help you combine past tenses (for discussing things that have already happened) with the negative past tenses, to say that something has NOT happened. Usually this isn't difficult, but you need to practise it. Play the following quiz to see how much you know about negative past tenses. Once you have scored 10/10, you will indeed be saying, 'That wasn't so hard'!

  1. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    'Why isn't that coffee ready yet?'
    'Because someone ... ... the kettle on to boil!'
    If the kettle is still cold now, it's because someone 'did not put' it on to boil.
    Answer 3 is a slightly different, but correct way to say the same thing (assuming 'put' is in its past form ... it's one of those verbs that never changes in the past, of course!).
  2. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    'Where's Fred this evening?'
    'I don't know; I ... ... him all day.'
    We use this form if there is still a chance that we might (yet) see him.
    Maybe we didn't see him all day yesterday (and that day is already finished); we haven't yet seen him today, but there is still a chance.
  3. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    We ... ... that you would be coming last weekend, otherwise we could have arranged to go out for a meal.
    Again, this is the simple way to say 'something did not happen' within a time-frame that has now finished.
  4. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    ' ... ... mending your bike yet?'
    We could use the affirmative question ('Have you finished ... ?') which could equally likely be answered Yes or No.
    We use the negative form to 'ask a little harder', because the answer would either be 'No, I haven't [finished yet]' or 'Yes, I have!'. This form of the question sounds a bit more urgent and impatient, perhaps even a bit critical of someone taking a long time to do something that should not need very long.
  5. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    There ... ... any rain yesterday, so I think I'd better go out and water the garden.
    This is the simplest, and correct answer.
    The affirmative form would be 'There was ... ' (as in the start of a fairy-tale: 'Once upon a time there was ...'); the negative form is 'There was not ...', or in daily speech 'There wasn't ...'.
  6. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    'She ... ... to the gym this week; she ... ... last week, either.'
    She has not been (yet) this week, though she still might do; but last week is now finished, and she did not go at all.
  7. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    'My mobile phone ... ... properly since we went for that walk in the pouring rain.'
    We use the 'past continuous' form here ~ because not only is it not working properly now, but it 'hasn't been working' for some time.
    Unlike many languages, English does not use a Present Tense form of the verb here ('It does not work / is not working'), although of course, a native-speaker would understand you if you said it.
    You might also say 'has not worked' ... but in this case, you aren't suggesting any 'continuation'. This version has a finality about it ~ as though you have now given up any hope, and stopped even trying to make it work.
  8. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    The boss told me he ... ... such a dreadful piece of work.
    This is a special, emphatic past negative form.
    As in an earlier Question, there is a sense here that he 'has never [yet] seen' anything so bad, but there remains an open chance that he might do so in the future, e.g. tomorrow.
  9. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    We went to ask at the flats where my cousin used to live as a student, but the man there said they ... ... by that name.
    In this case, the verb is TWO steps back into the past, because when we asked (one step back), they hadn't previously heard (even further back).
    Don't forget that English only needs ONE negative element : ' ... never heard of ANYbody' (NOT 'nobody')!
  10. Choose the best word/s to complete the sentence in good English.
    Now check through your answers once more, to make sure you ... ... mistakes!
    The shape of the verb group here is very similar to the one in Question 9.

Author: Ian Miles

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