So you’ve heard other parents saying their child scored 10/10 for the grammar MCQ section and you’re wondering how they did it.
To help your child better prepare for the Paper 2 examination, Vanessa Scully, our Senior Curriculum Specialist and teacher, has put together a list of the 3 trickiest questions in the grammar MCQ section. If your child seems to be struggling with this component of the Paper 2 examination, these could be some of the questions that stumped him or her:
1. Uncountable or Mass Nouns
What would you have chosen as your answer? If you said “were”, that is incorrect. The correct answer is “was”.
Every year, without fail, pupils try to bargain their way into getting marks for this grammar question, but it never works.
“But all the furniture means that there were
many of them, so it is plural!” they reason.
That is actually a common misconception. Words such as “furniture” and “equipment” are actually “Uncountable Nouns” or “Mass Nouns”. In other words, they do not have a plural form. Think about it: You don’t say “two furnitures” or “three equipments”. We have to use counters such as “two pieces of furniture” or “three boxes of equipment”.
- Remember, uncountable nouns must be paired with singular verbs.
- If your child identifies any of these nouns in a question, he or she should write “S” on top of these nouns to imply singular nouns.
- Then, pick the singular verb to match the uncountable noun.
What would be your answer for the question above? If you said “doesn’t”, you are correct.
Another common grammar question that students trip up on is question tags. They may have heard their teachers in school mention “positive” and “negative” statements, but the subsequent question that students ask is, “How do I identify if the statement given is positive or negative?”
Examples of positive statements:
- The whales beached themselves.
- Lydia has two pet cats.
- John was at the library yesterday.
Examples of negative statements:
- The dogs did not bark when the burglar broke in.
- Paul does not have an oven.
- Rachel was not in school last week.
So what can your child do when they encounter such questions?
- Firstly, annotate the positive ( + ) or negative ( – ) sign over the main statement.
- Then, pick the correct question tag. In general, a positive main statement should be paired with a negative question tag (those that end with the n’t) while a negative main statement should be paired with a positive question tag
What do you think is the answer for this grammar question above? If you picked “whom”, that’s correct.
To be honest, many adults have trouble with this question as we do not use it in our day-to-day conversations. (Yes, parent. I can see you nodding as you read this.) Don’t rack your brains trying to recall what your teachers use to mention in primary school. Let me help you out with a few easy pointers:
- We use “who” to refer to the subject or the doer of the action (verb).
Max was not the one who did the biting, hence, “who” is not the right answer.
- We use “whom” to refer to the object or the receiver of the action (verb).
Max was the one who was bitten, hence “whom” is the right answer.
- We use “whose” to show possession (that something or someone belongs to another).
The main idea of the sentence is to talk about Max being bitten, so possession does not come into play here.
Here’s what your child can do to ensure they never get such questions wrong:
- First, have your child practise labelling “S” (Subject), “V” (Verb) and “O” (Object).
- If the noun in front of the blank was labelled “S”, the answer should be “who”. If the noun in front of the blank was labelled “O”, the answer should be “whom”.
So when is “whose” used in a sentence? Here are some examples:
- Tiffany, whose mother is a tailor, always has the most beautiful dresses.
- George, whose aunt is a famous singer, is pursuing a career in the music industry.
At LiteracyPlus, our Enhancing English Language Skills (EELS) programme aims to equip our learners to be confident writers and to apply the skills they have learnt. To find out more about our regular English enrichment programme which focuses on writing and reading comprehension skills, click here.
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