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ESL Easy Quiz

... What Can We Do? - Everyday Verbs

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 “… What Can We Do” but no doubt your teachers will talk about the “Everyday Verbs 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.

In English it is important, and quite easy, to use everyday verbs like 'can' and 'may' and 'must' to explain the context in which a main action happens. What can we do to help you with these everyday verbs?

Let's try this quiz...

  1. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    ' ... ... you remind me of your name again, please?'
    'Could you please do ...' is a very standard, polite way to ask for someone's help.
    It allows them (if true) to reply 'I would if I could, but I'm afraid I can't because ...' ~ and then they can explain why not.
  2. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    'It's been a lovely evening, but I really ... ... go home now; I have an early start tomorrow morning.'
    'Must' is right here, because the person speaking can see no other responsible alternative thing to do ( ... much though they 'might' wish they could stay on at the party!).
  3. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    'I'm afraid you ... ... think I am very stupid, but you ... ... tell my family or I shall be in big trouble.'
    The first 'must' means that the person being spoken-to can't really make any other sense of the situation, except to conclude that the speaker has done something very silly (losing a lot of money, for example).
    The 'mustn't' means that the second person should not speak to the family about it, because if they do, there will be further problems (so if they want peace and quiet, it is essential for them to keep the secret.)
    This is the sort of dialogue you may hear in television soap-operas or in a detective series!
  4. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    'She ... ... be very good at playing the harp, but when it comes to putting up a tent, she's completely hopeless!'
    We use 'may' to say that while one thing 'may (well)' be true and good, it doesn't help with something quite different.
    'She may have passed Grade 8 on the harp, but give her a clarinet and she can't play a single note.'
    'Maybe you know the Russian alphabet, but can you just tell us now what that sign means?'
  5. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    ' ~ So you ... ... be their visitor from Africa! Welcome to Birmingham!'
    We use 'must' when we reach the end of a logical argument: if x = 36, then 3x 'must be' 108. If this man is my father, then I must be his child, etc.
    None of the other, less-strong auxiliary verbs is powerful enough to express this idea.
  6. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    The poor child nearly drowned when he fell into the river, because he ... ... swim.
    The important factor is whether he knew how to swim. This would need the 'can' verb in the present tense if it were happening now ('Help me; I can't swim!', he may well have cried, in between mouthfuls of water). The past form, for how things were at the time when he had his accident, is 'could'. He could not swim then ... but maybe, after surviving, he has decided to learn how, so that he will never be in such a situation again!
  7. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    According to what they said on the radio, it ... ... rain hard tomorrow afternoon.
    Not 'may' as in ''having permission to'! In this case it means that rain is quite likely: it may rain, or it may not ~ but we ought to be ready in case it starts.
  8. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    Do you think you ... ... manage to get this door open?
    A simpler way to ask would be 'Can you do this?'
  9. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    A polite young gentleman at a formal evening dance might ask a young woman, ' ... ... I have the pleasure of dancing with you?'
    'May I .. ' = 'Do you allow me permission to ... ?'
  10. Choose the word (or words) that fit best in the blank.
    In the famous national song 'Rule Britannia', the last line says (as a promise):
    'Britons* never ... ... be slaves!'
    (* Britons = citizens of Great Britain; British people)
    This is the very definite form of the future; it allows no space for doubt on the matter!

Author: Ian Miles

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