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Exercises and Quizzes

Here you will find (1) tests and exercises that offer additional practice in correctly and effectively building sentences and paragraphs, and (2) reading quizzes that measure your familiarity with many of the works included in our Essay Samplers.
  1. Essay Quizzes (16)
  2. Grammar Exercises (76)
  3. Punctuation Exercises (19)
  4. Quizzes: Figures of Speech (8)
  5. Sentence Combining (26)
  6. Vocabulary Quizzes (21)

Exercise in Writing With Specific Details
Specific details create word pictures that can make your writing easier to understand and more interesting to read. This exercise will give you practice in revising sentences to make them more concrete and specific.

Practice in Supporting a Topic Sentence With Specific Details
A topic sentence contains the main idea upon which a paragraph is developed. What follows a topic sentence are a number of supporting sentences that develop the main idea with specific details.

Exercise in Revising Descriptive Sentences
This revision exercise will give you practice in writing with specific descriptive details.

Exercise in Identifying Effective Thesis Statements
This exercise will help you understand the difference between an effective and an ineffective thesis statement--a sentence that identifies the main idea and central purpose of an essay.

Practice in Composing Topic Sentences
This exercise will give you practice in expressing a main idea in a topic sentence that attracts the interest of your readers.

Practice in Paragraphing
This exercise will give you practice in paragraphing--organizing sentences into unified paragraphs in a coherent essay.

Practice in Identifying Points of View
This exercise will give you practice in identifying different points of view in 10 passages from our collection of Classic British and American Essays and Speeches.

Practice in Organizing the Descriptive Paragraph
This exercise will give you practice in organizing a descriptive paragraph.

Exercise in Composing a Formal Job Description
After reading this informal description of the job of parcel post clerk, complete the simple outline that follows it. Then use the information in your outline to draft a more formal and objective description of the same job.

Exercise in Organizing a Formal Job Description
This exercise will give you practice in effectively organizing an informative paragraph--specifically, an objective report on the duties and skills required of a professional body snatcher.

Revision Exercise: Practice in Revising a Place Description
In this exercise, we consider ways of revising a paragraph that was drafted in response to the guidelines in "How to Write a Place Description."

Evaluating a Claim Letter
This exercise will help you identify the characteristics of an effective letter of complaint. Analyze the claim letter from a subscriber to Qwickster, and then respond to the questions that follow.

Evaluating Classification Plans
A classification plan is a simple outline that you can use to begin to develop and organize a classification paragraph or essay. This exercise will help you determine the kinds of items that belong in an effective classification plan.

Practice in Identifying Coordinating Conjunctions
A coordinating conjunction (also called a coordinator) is a word that joins two or more items in a sentence. In this exercise, you'll practice identifying coordinating conjunctions in sentences written by famous children's book author Dr. Seuss.

Quiz on Common Grammatical Terms
After studying the Top 25 Grammatical Terms, take this multiple-choice quiz to review what you have learned.

Practice in Using the Past Forms of Verbs
This exercise is based on two paragraphs from "Hunger of Memory," the autobiography of Mexican-American Richard Rodriguez. The exercise will give you practice in using the correct past forms of regular verbs and irregular verbs.

Practice in Identifying Helping Verbs (or Auxiliary Verbs)
This exercise will give you practice in identifying helping verbs (also called auxiliary verbs) in sentences.

Practice in Identifying Coordinating and Correlative Conjunctions
This exercise will give you practice in identifying coordinating conjunctions and correlative conjunction--words that serve to connect words, phrases, clauses, and sentences.

Practice in Identifying Compound Subjects
A compound subject contains two or more simple subjects that are joined by a conjunction and that share the same predicate. In this exercise, you will practice identifying compound subjects.

Practice in Identifying Proper Nouns
Proper nouns are words and phrases used as names for particular individuals, places, and events. This exercise will give you practice in identifying proper nouns.

Practice in Identifying Subject and Object Complements
This exercise will give you practice in identifying subject complements and object complements in sentences.

Practice in Identifying Count Nouns and Mass Nouns
A count noun usually has different singular and plural forms, while a mass noun (also called a noncount noun) usually has only a singular form. This exercise will give you practice in identifying count nouns and mass nouns in sentences.

Practice in Identifying Direct Objects
This exercise will give you practice in identifying direct objects in sentences.

Practice in Identifying Indirect Objects
This exercise will give you practice in identifying indirect objects in sentences.

Revising a Place Description: Practice in Developing a Descriptive Paragraph
This draft paragraph could be improved through careful focusing and the addition of more specific details. After carefully reading the description, respond to the revision questions and compare your answers to those on the next page.

Exercise in Identifying Transitional Expressions
In this exercise, you will practice identifying transitional words and phrases in short passages.

Practice in Identifying Adjective Clauses
After reviewing the article on Subordination With Adjective Clauses, try to identify the adjective clauses in these ten sentences

Practice in Identifying Sentences by Function
This exercise will give you practice in identifying four types of sentences: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory.

Practice in Cutting the Clutter
Here we'll apply the strategies that we have learned for cutting out needless words--deadwood that only bores, distracts, or confuses our readers.

The Big Quiz on Commonly Confused Words
"Confusables" are words that are commonly mixed up because they look and sound alike. To test your familiarity with 50 of these often puzzling word pairs, set aside 15 minutes to take this big quiz. Select the word in each set that completes the sentence accurately and appropriately.

Exercise in Organizing a Process Analysis Essay
This exercise, based on a student's process-analysis essay on bathing a cat, will give you practice in organizing a clear, coherent, and cohesive composition of approximately 500 words.

Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions
On these pages you'll find simple definitions of more than 400 commonly confused words. Follow the links for examples, practice exercises, and detailed discussions.

A Pop Quiz for Word Lovers
What do the nouns "scissors," "underpants," and "grits" have in common? That's just one of the curious questions in our Pop Quiz for Word Lovers.

A National Grammar Day Grammar Quiz
To mark National Grammar Day on March 4, we offer this short quiz on English grammar--not usage or prescriptive grammar, but what David Crystal calls "the structural foundation of our ability to express ourselves."

Review Quiz: Commonly Confused Words
If you have studied our pages on "Choosing the Correct Word: Clearing Up Common Confusions," you should have no trouble completing this short review quiz.

Another Big Quiz on Commonly Confused Words
Another Big Quiz on Commonly Confused Words

The Third Big Quiz on Commonly Confused Words
This quiz will test your familiarity with 50 fresh sets of confusables--words that are frequently mixed up because they look and/or sound alike.

Quiz on 20 Commonly Confused Words
In our Glossary of Usage you'll find more than 150 sets of commonly confused words. To test your familiarity with 20 of those word pairs, take a few minutes to do the following quiz.

A Quick Quiz on Commonly Confused Words: 20 Proverbs
Enjoy two lessons in one today: a quick quiz on commonly confused words packed in proverbial wisdom. Complete each proverb by selecting the correct word from each highlighted pair.

Proofreading Practice: Commonly Confused Words
Practice in proofreading the work of others can help us become more aware of our own occasional slip-ups. This exercise offers practice in distinguishing some of those troublesome words that closely resemble other words--homonyms and homophones.

A Quiz on Idioms and Commonly Confused Words
This quiz will you help you recognize some common English idioms and choose correctly between some commonly confused words.

Exercise in Eliminating Deadwood From Our Writing
Because what we take out of our writing can be just as important as what we put in, here we'll practice eliminating needless words--deadwood that bores, distracts, or confuses our readers.

Practice in Using Capital Letters
After reviewing our "Guidelines for Using Capital Letters," test your editing skills with this exercise.

A Quick Quiz on Capitalization
To test your familiarity with the somewhat arbitrary rules for capitalization, edit the following sentences to correct any errors.

A Quick Quiz on Tricky English Plurals
As pointed out in the article Plural Forms of English Nouns, we usually form the plural by adding "-s" or "-es" to the end of the noun. Except when we don't. Here's an opportunity to test your familiarity with some particularly tricky plurals: 15 questions, two minutes, correct answers on page two.

Review Exercise: Spelling
Practice your spelling skills by completing the following exercises.

Practice in Using a Dictionary to Check Spelling
This exercise will give you practice in locating and correcting spelling errors with the help of a dictionary.

Twenty Questions: A Quiz on the AP Stylebook
This 20-item quiz is based on the latest edition of "the journalist's bible"--The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. Give yourself five minutes to answer all the questions, and then compare your responses with the editors' rulings

Exercise in Eliminating Gender-Biased Language
This exercise will give you practice in recognizing gender-biased language and avoiding it in your writing.

A Quirky Quiz on the English Language
As these 15 quirky questions indicate, About Grammar & Composition covers a wide range of topics related to the English language. Take a few minutes to test your knowledge of English and then begin exploring this website.

A Quick Quiz on the History of the English Language
This quiz will test your understanding of some of the key events noted in our Timeline of the English Language.

Something Borrowed: A Matching Quiz on Loanwords
Over the past 1,500 years, English has borrowed words from more than 300 other languages. To test your knowledge of where our words came from, take this matching quiz on loanwords.

Labels for Locals: A Quiz on Demonyms
Let's find out if you can tell the difference between a Cestrian and a Cytherean. Test your familiarity with demonyms by taking this quiz: match the place names with the names and nicknames for the people who live there.

Toponyms: A Matching Quiz on Words Derived From Place Names
"Toponym" refers to either a place name or a word coined in association with a place. Test your familiarity with toponyms by taking this matching quiz.

Blends: Practice in Identifying Word Parts
A blend (or portmanteau word) is a new word formed by packing together the sounds and meanings of two other words. In this exercise, you'll practice unpacking these words to see how they're put together.

Reading the Dictionary
Ammon Shea's exercise in reading the dictionary illustrates the richness of English and the complexities involved in crafting precise definitions.

Neil Postman's Exercise in Etymology
In this article, Neil Postman describes an engaging way of introducing students to the subject of etymology and the multicultural history of the English language.

Name That "-nym": A Matching Quiz
Here's a chance to test your familiarity with 10 language-related terms ending in "-nym" (a suffix derived from the Greek word for "name" or "word").

Evaluation Exercise: The Worst Résumé Ever
Kenny McCormick’s résumé is notable in many ways, none of them positive. This exercise will give you practice in revising and editing a résumé.

London University Matriculation Papers in English Language: 1871-1885
These five English language examination papers were originally published in an appendix to "An Epitome of English Grammar," a textbook published in 1885.

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