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What's Been Going On? - Past Questions

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 serious at the same time… In the case of this quiz you might like to tell your friends about “What’s Been Going On?” but no doubt your teachers will talk about the “Past Questions quiz”! If you hear a specific 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.

Sometimes when English speakers meet, they may ask questions about each other's past by asking 'What's been going on?'... In other words, 'Is there any interesting news in your life since the last time we met?'

It is useful and important to learn past questions. Here is a quiz to help you practise doing that.

  1. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    'Where on earth .... ... ? ... ... you everywhere!'
    The actual answer to such a question might be, 'I have been shopping', so the question is 'Where have you been?'.
    Remember that in English we have to 'look FOR' a person or thing. We do have one-word ways of expressing this, like 'hunt' and 'seek', but 'look for' is the everyday expression.
  2. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    In the 1960s there was a famous song by Pete Seeger which asked ... :
    We would ask 'Where has something/someone gone?' or perhaps 'Where did it/they go?'.
    The 'have gone' carries a suggestion that the flowers might come back in the future. A child at the zoo, who can't see an animal because it has gone off out of sight for a quiet sleep in its little house, might ask 'Where has the tiger gone?' ... in the hope that it will come back out before too long!
  3. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    'Who ... ... the special wine glasses in the dishwasher?'
    For single past events, we use the simple past: 'Who discovered Latin America?' 'Who finished the jam?' 'Who invented sliced bread?'
  4. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    (In the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears:)
    ' ... ... in my chair?'
    In this situation, the 'sitting' is quite recent, and presumably lasted for some length of time: maybe the chair is still slightly warm. The Past Continuous form of the verb is used here.
    Likewise in an office, someone might ask 'Who's been using my stapler?' or 'Who's been borrowing my files?'
  5. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    ( ... ) And then there is the silly old joke: ' ... ... ?'
    (Maybe you have jokes like this in your language, too)
    The structure here is 'Why did + someone + verb ...?'
    The main verb is in its Present Tense, because 'did' is already in the past. For a present-tense question, a child might ask 'Why does the sky go dark at night?'; the past form would be 'Why did it go dark last night?'.
    In case you were wondering, there are lots of possible reasons why a chicken might cross the road. But the obvious and traditional one is, ' ... because he wanted to get to the other side'!
  6. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    'How ... ... with my luggage?'
    The shape of this is like in an earlier Question : 'How + did + [subject] + [verb] ... ' :
    'How did humans fly to the moon?' 'How did someone realise we could eat artichokes?'
    For a more recent, urgent or sudden situation (like the one in this question) we might ask:
    'How HAS your case GOT mixed up ... ' (This suggests that we still have a chance to change things and make them better.)
  7. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    ' ... ... what would happen if the world stopped turning?'
    Any of these Answers is possible, but No.2 is probably best of all because:
    The 'Haven't you ... ' (a negative question) seems to suggest that surely you HAVE wondered this at some time, as most of us do;
    Answer 1 is perfectly possible but does not carry this suggestion.
    Answer 3 with its 'Did ...' suggests that the time is now past; you may have asked yourself about the turning world when you were younger, but now you are 'older and wiser' you know better than to waste more time worrying about it;
    Answer 4 suggests that most of us did think about that question when we were younger, but have stopped and no longer do.
  8. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    'In what year ... ... to driving their cars on the right-hand side of the road?'
    The basic shape here is: 'When + did + they + change ...?'.
    As a matter of fact, they made this change on 3 September 1967.
    Meanwhile please remember that English puts a capital first letter onto all nationalities, even when they are 'just adjectives': 'a Japanese drink', 'the Argentine border', 'some Norwegian banknotes'.
  9. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    ' ... ... the 'no-smoking' signs on the main doors?'
    Answer 3 is correct too ~ but this situation sounds like a quick, spoken one so the short form of the verb is better. Either the person did see the signs, or they didn't; the negative form of the question is suggesting that he ought to have seen them.
  10. Pick the best word/s to fill the gap/s using good English.
    ... ... all these questions correctly, and to the best of your ability?
    This is an open question about something that happened recently; if you answered 'no' , you could still go back and try the questions again!
    Answer 1 is also possible, but (as with some earlier examples) it suggests that the whole exercise is finished, with no chance at all of going back and making any final changes. The 'Have you ...?' version could receive the reply: 'Well, I thought I had finished, but since you suggest it, perhaps I'll check once more!'
    But we hope you've 'got the idea' now ... haven't you?

Author: Ian Miles

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