Structure and Written Expression Practice Questions
The Structure and Written Expression section contains sentences that test your knowledge of important structural and grammatical elements of standard written English. These sentences include a variety of topics and give no particular advantage to individuals in any specific field of study.
When topics have a national context, they refer to the United States or Canadian history, culture, art, or literature. However, you do not need to have a prior knowledge of these contexts to answer the structural or grammatical points being tested.
Before completing these practice questions,you might wish to print out an answer sheet.
Directions: Questions 1–4 are incomplete sentences. Beneath each sentence you will see four words or phrases, marked A, B, C and D. Choose the one word or phrase that best completes the sentence. Then, on your answer sheet, find the number of the question and fill in the space that corresponds to the letter of the answer you have chosen.
Look at the following examples:
Geysers have often been compared to volcanoes _______ they both emit hot liquids from below the Earth’s surface.
a. due to
c. in spite of
d. regardless of
The sentence should read, “Geysers have often been compared to volcanoes because they both emit hot liquids from below the Earth’s surface.” Therefore, you should choose answer B.
During the early period of ocean navigation, ________ any need for sophisticated instruments and techniques.
a. so that hardly
b. where there hardly was
c. hardly was
d. there was hardly
The sentence should read, “During the early period of ocean navigation, there was hardly any need for sophisticated instruments and techniques.” Therefore, you should choose answer D.
1. Refrigerating meats ________ the spread of bacteria.
c. to retard
d. is retarded
2. Throughout the animal kingdom, ________ bigger than the elephant.
a. whale is only the
b. only the whale is
c. is the whale only
d. only whale is the
3. The fact ________ money orders can usually be easily cashed has made them a popular form of payment.
c. is that
d. which is
4. The first article of the United States Constitution gives Congress ________ to pass laws.
a. the power
b. has the power
c. the power is
d. of the power
Directions: In questions 5–10, each sentence has four underlined words or phrases. The four underlined parts of the sentence are marked A, B, C and D. Identify the one underlined word or phrase that must be changed in order for the sentence to be correct. Then, on your answer sheet, find the number of the question and fill in the space that corresponds to the letter of the answer you have chosen.
Look at the following examples:
The sentence should read, “Guppies are sometimes called rainbow fish because of the males’ bright colors.” Therefore, you should choose answer A.
The sentence should read, “Serving several terms in Congress, Shirley Chisholm became an important United States politician.” Therefore, you should choose answer B.
Answer Key for Structure and Expression
Using Clauses as Nouns, and Adjectives
If a clause can stand alone as a sentence, it is an independent clause, as in the following
the Prime Minister is in Ottawa
Some clauses, however, cannot stand alone as sentences: in this case, they are dependent clauses or subordinate clauses. Consider the same clause with the subordinating conjunction “because” added to the beginning:
when the Prime Minister is in Ottawa
In this case, the clause could not be a sentence by itself, since the conjunction “because” suggests that the clause is providing an explanation for something else. Since this dependent clause answers the question “when,” just like an adverb, it is called a dependent adverb clause (or simply an adverb clause, since adverb clauses are always dependent clauses). Note how the clause can replace the adverb “tomorrow” in the following examples:
The committee will meet tomorrow.
The committee will meet when the Prime Minister is in Ottawa.
Dependent clauses can stand not only for adverbs, but also for nouns and for adjectives.
A noun clause is an entire clause which takes the place of a noun in another clause or phrase. Like a noun, a noun clause acts as the subject or object of a verb or the object of a preposition, answering the questions “who(m)?” or “what?”. Consider the following
I know Latin.
I know that Latin is no longer spoken as a native language.
In the first example, the noun “Latin” acts as the direct object of the verb “know.” In the second example, the entire clause “that Latin …” is the direct object.
In fact, many noun clauses are indirect questions:
Their destination is unknown.
Where they are going is unknown.
The question “Where are they going?,” with a slight change in word order, becomes a noun clause when used as part of a larger unit — like the noun “destination,” the clause is the subject of the verb “is.”
Here are some more examples of noun clauses:
about what you bought at the mall
This noun clause is the object of the preposition “about,” and answers the question “about what?”
Whoever broke the vase will have to pay for it.
This noun clause is the subject of the verb “will have to pay,” and answers the question “who will have to pay?”
The Toronto fans hope that the Blue Jays will win again.
This noun clause is the object of the verb “hope,” and answers the question “what do the fans hope?”
Written Task Samples: Noun Clause
1. Disturbances in seabed slope which have occurred over short periods of time have caused scientists to believe __________ more extensive than at first thought.
A. that tectonic drift is
B. which tectonic drift
C. tectonic drifts
D. tectonic drifting
2. _______ the manatee of south Florida is being pushed to the edge of extinction due to the invasion of its habitat by motorized boats has been shown by marine researchers.
A. In that
3. Virtually all doctors agree ________ a second diagnosis in the event of a potentially major disease.
A. that patients should seek
B. patients should be sought
C. patients they seek
D. patients that should seek
4. _______ found in forests can possess deadly toxicity is an element of folk knowledge that has not been passed down to today’s general public.
A. Those certain mushrooms
B. That certain mushrooms
C. Despite it, certain are the mushrooms
D. Even though certain mushrooms
5. _______ continue to pollute the ocean with all forms of contamination from sewage to solid wastes such as plastic containers remains a mystery to environmentalists.
A. Although people
B. People that
C. Why people
D. Those people that
6. __________ and have low refractive indices, low dielectric constants, and low surface tensions has long been known by chemists.
A. Those fluorocarbons are more volatile and denser than corresponding hydrocarbons
B. That fluorocarbons are more volatile and denser than corresponding hydrocarbons
C. While fluorocarbons are more volatile and denser than corresponding hydrocarbons
D. When fluorocarbons are more volatile and denser than corresponding hydrocarbons
7. __________ advances and broadens our understanding of the complex problems of soil fertility.
A. Whatever adds to the biochemical knowledge of soils
B. When it adds that to the biochemical knowledge of soils
C. While it is added to the biochemical knowledge of soils
D. Whomever adds to the biochemical knowledge of soils
8. It is safe to say __________ does not exceed 25%.
A. because the average efficiency of the best steam engine
B. which the average efficiency of the best steam engine
C. that the average efficiency of the best steam engine
D. with the average efficiency of the best steam engine
9. There is no doubt _________ correspond to the gill clefts which are used in connection with the breathing in fishes.
A. because of the minute slits which are seen in embryonic reptile and birds
B. despite the fact that the minute slits which are seen in embryonic reptile and birds
C. if the minute slits which are seen in embryonic reptile and birds
D. that the minute slits which are seen in embryonic reptiles and birds
10. Blame for the invention of nuclear weapons must fall upon __________.
A. however conceived their invention in the first place
B. whenever conceived their invention in the first place
C. whatsoever conceived their invention in the first place
D. whoever conceived their invention in the first place
An adjective clause is a dependent clause which takes the place of an adjective in another clause or phrase. Like an adjective, an adjective clause modifies a noun or pronoun, answering questions like “which?” or “what kind of?” Consider the following examples:
the red coat
the coat which I bought yesterday
Like the word “red” in the first example, the dependent clause “which I bought yesterday” in the second example modifies the noun “coat.” Note that an adjective clause usually comes after what it modifies, while an adjective usually comes before.
In formal writing, an adjective clause begins with the relative pronouns “who(m),” “that,” or “which.” In informal writing or speech, you may leave out the relative pronoun when it is not the subject of the adjective clause, but you should usually include the relative pronoun in formal, academic writing:
The books people read were mainly religious.
The books that people read were mainly religious.
Some firefighters never meet the people they save.
Some firefighters never meet the people whom they save.
Here are some more examples of adjective clauses:
the meat which they ate was tainted
This clause modifies the noun “meat” and answers the question “which meat?”.
about the movie which made him cry
This clause modifies the noun “movie” and answers the question “which movie?”.
they are searching for the one who borrowed the book
The clause modifies the pronoun “one” and answers the question “which one?”.
Did I tell you about the author whom I met?
The clause modifies the noun “author” and answers the question “which author?”.
The Adjective Clause
Recognize an adjective clause when you see one.
An adjective clause—also called an adjectival or relative clause—will meet three requirements:
First, it will contain a subject and verb.
Next, it will begin with a relative pronoun [who, whom, whose, that, or which] or a relative adverb [when, where, or why].
Finally, it will function as an adjective, answering the questions What kind? How many? or Which one?
The adjective clause will follow one of these two patterns:
relative pronoun or adverb + subject + verb
relative pronoun as subject + verb
Here are some examples:
Whose big, brown eyes pleaded for another cookie
Whose = relative pronoun; eyes = subject; pleaded = verb.
Why Fred cannot stand sitting across from his sister Melanie
Why = relative adverb; Fred = subject; can stand = verb [not, an adverb, is not officially part of the verb].
That bounced across the kitchen floor
That = relative pronoun functioning as subject; bounced = verb.
Who hiccupped for seven hours afterward
Who = relative pronoun functioning as subject; hiccupped = verb.
Written Task Samples: Adjective Clause
1. Dubbing is an audio process __________ one sound over another sound.
B. that imprints it
C. which imprints
D. that it imprints
2. Thomas Jefferson, _______ of fathering several children by one of his slaves, was supposedly committed to the principle of equal rights for all.
A. in that he was accused
B. that was accused
C. he was accused
D. who was accused
3. The cheetah is a member of the feline family _______ are being drastically reduced by in-breeding and lion predation.
A. whose numbers
B. those numbers
C. that its numbers
D. its numbers that
4. Wrap-around sound, a process patented by Dolby, is an audio device _______ the moviegoer in the center of the action.
B. that puts them
C. that they put
D. that puts
5. Coca-Cola, begun in an Atlanta drugstore in 1888, remains a powerful beverage company _______ with numerous smaller food producers.
A. that has merged
B. that merged it
C. which merging
D. whose to merge
6. The next point __________ is at the sawmill.
A. at which it is important to put a check upon wood waste
B. by which that is important to put a check upon wood waste
C. that is important to put a check upon wood waste
D. important to put a check upon wood waste
7. Carl Maria von Weber was one of those peculiar types __________, round whom the darker shadows of the world may close for years almost unnoticed.
A. that always young in animal spirits
B. whom always young in spirits animal
C. who are always young in animal spirits
D. they are always young in animal spirits
8. Grieg went out into his own fertile by-way, leaving the broad valley for the narrower region __________.
A. to exploring for the first time
B. that explored for the first time
C. in it the first time of exploration
D. which he explored for the first time
9. When speaking of the social mammals, there are other conditions of life, however, __________ that the newly born young one should be put on the spot almost at once because the situation is full of danger.
A. in that it is necessary
B. in which it is necessary
C. if it is necessary
D. that they are necessary
10. In many ways, the most striking of the carniverous plants in the Venus Fly-trap, __________.
A. it grows in marshy places in Carolina
B. that growing in marshy places in Carolina
C. which it grows in marshy places in Carolina
D. which grows in marshy places in Carolina