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ESL Medium Quiz

Been There, Done That - Irregular Past Forms

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 “Been There, Done That” but no doubt your teachers will talk about the “Irregular Past Forms 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.

There's a widespread modern saying in English - you may well have heard it - 'Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt'! It's a way of saying that you have gained a range of experience.

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Like many European languages, English expresses single past actions using the Perfect Tense ('per-fect' comes from Latin, meaning 'completely done', i.e. the action is over by the time you are talking about it). We say 'I have done...' in much the same way as French says 'j'ai fait' or German, 'ich habe gemacht'. In these cases too, there is a present form built-into the verb phrase as a whole: 'I HAVE ... (done, etc.)'.

Like many other languages, too, English has some verbs, including ones that come up quite frequently, which have irregular past forms. How many of them do you recognise? Let's see!

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  1. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'The boat has ... ... to the bed of the lake, but luckily all the people have ... ... to safety on the bank.'
    These two verbs, along with many others, have the '-i-' => '-a-' => '-u-' vowel change ('Today I sing, yesterday I sang, many times in my life I have sung'). Similar are:
    begin, drink, ring, spring, stink.
    If someone is in a difficult situation (like these boat people) where they will either succeed and survive or not, this is sometimes called a 'sink-or-swim' position, which makes a nice bright clear phrase in English. If the suddenness of it brings on the people's adrenaline, we also refer to the 'fight or flight' decision ~ in more primitive times, a person might be in circumstances needing urgent action, and they had to decide whether to 'fight' or 'flee' (noun: 'flight', like also from 'flying'). Either of these responses would need energy and muscle power, with their body getting itself ready for activity.
  2. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'We hope you have not ... ... what you were ... ... last week.'
    Two more very common irregular forms, both to do with communication (conveying and remembering information).
  3. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'Oh no, someone's ... ... the dirty washing in with the clean again!'
    The past participle of 'put' does not change from the present form of the verb. There are (surprisingly!) many short common verbs that do not change, like this: 'cut, 'fit', 'let', 'set' and 'shut' are amongst these.
  4. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    If a Driving Test examiner has to fail a candidate, he must sign a form where he will have ... ... about how well (or badly) the candidate has ... ... , in case of any complaint afterwards.
    This is a pair that almost rhymes: 'write => wrote => written' ; 'drive => drove=> driven '.
    In your own dictionary or verb-book, you may have a long alphabetical listing of irregular verbs, which probably looks like a big challenge to learn ... particularly if it is listed alphabetically according to the present form of the verb, rather than which 'family' each verb belongs to, in terms of how it changes in the past version.
    You may find it more helpful to group the verbs according to how they change in the past forms, and in particular how the vowels change. If your first language happens to be German or a related language, you may find this quite natural ('sing / sang / sung', etc.).
  5. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'They had not ... ... the instructions properly, so they ... ... it too late to enter the competition.'
    The past form of 'to read' is 'read' (written the same, but pronounced to rhyme with 'red' and 'bed' rather than with the long 'E'); the past form of 'leave' is identical with 'left' as in 'left and right'.
  6. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'The announcer ... ... that she had ... ... the World Record.'
    Two very common irregulars here, not just for sports fans!
  7. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'I would have ... ... this suit to the party, but the sleeve of the jacket is ... ... .'
    These two match nicely, don't they? (Except when it comes to wearing tidy clothes!)
    If you are buying something second-hand (it could be clothing, a car or bike, even a house!), it is usual to accept that the previous owners will have been using it, so it will no longer look brand new. We call this 'wear and tear' (or even 'fair wear and tear': i.e. it would only be 'fair' to allow for the item being a bit scratched here and there).
  8. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'The out-of-control car ... ... the motorcycle, which then ... ... across the road.'
    These two verbs belong in a similar group with 'stick' and 'swing'. The verb 'win' changes its sound in the same way too, but the spelling does not exactly help (written as 'won', but pronounced as though the vowel were a short U, to rhyme with the number '1').
  9. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'What a dreadful hotel! I have never ... ... the toast to be so ... ... .'
    Two here that do not quite match, but will remind you of further verbs that form similarly to each.
  10. Choose the answer which will best complete the blank/s in correct English.
    'She came back from the shops having ... ... more than she ... ... to!'
    These two past forms rhyme together: the '-ea-' in 'meant' is pronounced as a 'short E', as in 'bread' and 'dead'.

Author: Ian Miles

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