Quiz about Lingguistics
Quiz about Lingguistics

L-ing-guistics Trivia Quiz


How much do YOU know about the morphology, syntax, semantics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics of "ing" usage? Yep. Me too. So you should do fine on this quiz!

A multiple-choice quiz by uglybird. Estimated time: 7 mins.
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Author
uglybird
Time
7 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
177,534
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
3782
Awards
Top 20% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 174 (8/10), Guest 199 (5/10), Guest 185 (2/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. In Merrie Olde English (AD 700-1100), nominalization (making a noun from other parts of speech) was basic and syntactically rudimentary. Which of the following phrases contains a word ending in "ing" that has not been nominalized? Hint

Clothing makes the man.
That is an ancient building.
The hole is gaping.
The painting is a Picasso.

2. In Old English, verbal adjectives (participles) could be distinguished from verbal nouns because different suffixes were used in their formation. However, "ing" is used in modern English not only in the creation of present participles but also for gerunds. In the following sentence, which of the occurrences of "smoking" is a present participle? "The ominously smoking (1) ruin of the apartment complex bore mute testimony to the fact that smoking(2) in bed was an instance of someone smoking(3) where they should not smoke(4)." Hint

1
4
3
2

3. Simple verbal nouns such as "building" must be distinguished from gerunds, which developed later. This may, at times, be problematic. In general, simple verbal nouns describe the results of an action, while gerunds describe the process. Consider the ambiguity inherent in the phrase "John's painting of the fence". Does the phrase refer to a painting of a fence done by John or John's act of painting the fence? What accounts for the ambiguity? Hint

Painting must always be taken to be a simple verbal noun.
"Painting" can be used either as a simple verbal noun or as a gerund.
There is no ambiguity. With a possessive, painting must always be taken as a gerund describing the process rather than the result.
This is an example of the misuse of a passive, deponent, first person fricative.

4. In Old English, a distinction was made between strong and weak verbs (a distinction which is now seldom made). Initially, only strong verbs were transformed into verbals. In time, only one category of verbs remained "ing" free. To verbs from which category must one never add "ing"? (Hint: A verb from that category appears in the preceding sentence). Hint

Semi-modal verbs
Intransitive verbs
Phrasal verbs
"True" modal verbs

5. The present tense forms of some modern English irregular verbs have descended from Old English strong verbs and end in "ing". As a result, some words can be doubly "ing-ed", e.g. ringing, springing, etc. Which of the following words is not the modern form of an Old English strong verb? Hint

Fling
Bring
Fleeting
Wring

6. By 1400, gerunds and present participles were both being formed by the addition of "ing", and gerund usage was expanding to include features heretofore the province of participles. Although used as nouns, the gerund's internal structure can be verb-like and came to include the same features as participles. In the following sentence, which word marks the end of the verbal gerund phrase? "Silently mouthing his rehearsed speech to himself in the mirror did not prepare John to deliver it to Mary." Hint

Himself
Mouthing
Speech
Mirror

7. Old English had only two tenses: past and present. In Old English, the present tense continuous aspect was formed in the following fashion: "Ende" was appended to a verb to produce a participial form. This was preceded by the Old English equivalent of "is" to produce the present continuous. Which of the following is a modern English present continuous construction? Hint

I was taking stock.
I had been taking stock.
I will be taking stock.
I am taking stock.

8. In order to successfully add "ing" to a two syllable word either one must have mastered the rather convoluted spelling rules governing the process, or one must have obtained computational orthographic software (a spellchecker). However, one should be clear on just exactly which English dialect one's spellchecker speaks. Which of the following spellings is correct in Manchester but incorrect in Chicago? Hint

Modelling
Committing
Benefiting
Beginning

9. In writing this quiz I have encountered a number of different forms ending in "ing". The gerund phrase is my favorite. Which of the following is NOT a feature of gerund phrases? Hint

Gerund phrases can be structured as either nominals or verbals.
Gerund phrases seldom require commas.
Gerund phrases always utilize a very simple internal structure.
Gerund phrases can't be dangling modifiers.

10. The potentially subtle difference between a verbal noun and a gerund resulted in a courteous error report that became the inspiration for this quiz. The word "euphemism" may itself be used as a euphemism for a word that begins in "L". Which "L" word has the proper grammatical credentials to be the word for which euphemism may be a euphemism, lie or lying?

Answer: (One word - "lie" or "lying")

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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. In Merrie Olde English (AD 700-1100), nominalization (making a noun from other parts of speech) was basic and syntactically rudimentary. Which of the following phrases contains a word ending in "ing" that has not been nominalized?

Answer: The hole is gaping.

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Deverbative: Derived from a verb.

Linguistic analysis: the process by which impressive polysyllabic words are generated to describe the complex syntactical function of the mundane words of common speech.

"Building", "clothing" and "painting" are nouns that are generally thought to have evolved from Old English verbs to which an "ng" containing suffix was appended. "Gaping" is a participle, a verbal adjective. Hence "gaping" is not the product of nominalization.

A variety of endings that included the letters "ng" were appended to Old English verbs to form nouns. The resulting nouns designated the results of an action: paint->painting, build -> building. Many common nouns ending in "ing" are believed to have been formed in this fashion. The process termed "nominalization" not only produces nouns from verbs but also from adjectives. For instance, the adjectives "careless" and "intense" can be nominalized to "carelessness" and "intensity", respectively. Words such as "building", "painting" and "clothing" may also function as gerunds of their respective verbs, allowing much greater syntactical scope.
2. In Old English, verbal adjectives (participles) could be distinguished from verbal nouns because different suffixes were used in their formation. However, "ing" is used in modern English not only in the creation of present participles but also for gerunds. In the following sentence, which of the occurrences of "smoking" is a present participle? "The ominously smoking (1) ruin of the apartment complex bore mute testimony to the fact that smoking(2) in bed was an instance of someone smoking(3) where they should not smoke(4)."

Answer: 1

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Parsing: The process by which the linguist convinces the layman that only an expert can work out the grammatical structure and meaning of a sentence.

The formation of participial phrases greatly expands the scope and usefulness of participles. Like adjectives, participles can take adverbial modifiers: "Walking slowly, he approached the river." But in addition, as verbals, participles can take objects, be adverbially modified with prepositional phrases, and take subject complements. "Becoming fatigued (subject complement for Bob) on his third attempt (prepositional phrase as adverb), Bob decided to quit trying."
3. Simple verbal nouns such as "building" must be distinguished from gerunds, which developed later. This may, at times, be problematic. In general, simple verbal nouns describe the results of an action, while gerunds describe the process. Consider the ambiguity inherent in the phrase "John's painting of the fence". Does the phrase refer to a painting of a fence done by John or John's act of painting the fence? What accounts for the ambiguity?

Answer: "Painting" can be used either as a simple verbal noun or as a gerund.

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Gerund: An English verbal noun that functions as a substantive but may incorporate features of a verb phrase.

Substantive: A linguistic term (generally used with pedantic intent) for a word or phrase that can function as a noun.

Gerunds are altogether remarkable. A more wondrously useful construction than the verbal gerund would, in this quiz author's opinion, be difficult to find. Integrating the versatile features of the verb in its internal structure, the verbal gerund can be incorporated in sentences with the flexibility of a noun phrase. And verbal gerunds can be used in ways that neither nouns nor clauses can be.
4. In Old English, a distinction was made between strong and weak verbs (a distinction which is now seldom made). Initially, only strong verbs were transformed into verbals. In time, only one category of verbs remained "ing" free. To verbs from which category must one never add "ing"? (Hint: A verb from that category appears in the preceding sentence).

Answer: "True" modal verbs

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Semantics: The linguistic aspect of meaning and the meaningful aspect of linguistics.

Semi-modal: A type of verb having the characteristics of both modal and main verbs.
(E.g. dare, need, ought)

Modal verbs are, according to "Longman's Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics", "auxiliary verbs which indicate attitudes of the speaker/writer towards the state or event expressed by another verb". There are nine undisputed "true" modal verbs: can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, and would. To these, some would append "ought". Others place "ought" with the semi-modals. "Ought" does not take an "ing", a property "ought" shares with the "true" modals. However, unlike "true" modals, "ought" does take an infinitive (e.g. "I ought to be going").

Have you ever been exhorted "not to quibble over semantics"? Well, I would maintain that whether you should quibble is a matter of semantics! If by "semantics" you mean the study of meaning in language, then surely you should quibble. If you and I mean something entirely different, we should not deceive one another into thinking that we agree. However, "semantics" may also refer to the study of linguistic relationships. If we realize that we mean the same thing but are expressing it with different linguistic symbols, a discussion about this variety of semantics is unlikely to be productive.
5. The present tense forms of some modern English irregular verbs have descended from Old English strong verbs and end in "ing". As a result, some words can be doubly "ing-ed", e.g. ringing, springing, etc. Which of the following words is not the modern form of an Old English strong verb?

Answer: Fleeting

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Register: Language suited to a particular purpose, e.g. linguistics, FT quiz composition.

"Fleeting" is an adjective that originated as an old English participle, "fleotende". The root verb "fleotan" originally meant to float but came to indicate swift movement. Hence, "floating" and "fleeting" came to have different meanings despite their common derivation.

Many of the verbs now labeled "irregular" are descendants of Old English strong verbs, including those verbs whose simple present forms end in "ing". The chief distinction between strong and weak verbs in Old English is that the root will change to indicate tense in strong verbs while a weak verb will add a suffix to indicate tense. In modern English, regular verbs add "-ed" to form the simple past tense, while the past participle and simple past are the same. Former strong verbs such as "sing" have distinct forms for simple past and past participle ("sang" and "sung", respectively). With time, however, many of the simple past tenses have been lost, as in the case of "sling".
6. By 1400, gerunds and present participles were both being formed by the addition of "ing", and gerund usage was expanding to include features heretofore the province of participles. Although used as nouns, the gerund's internal structure can be verb-like and came to include the same features as participles. In the following sentence, which word marks the end of the verbal gerund phrase? "Silently mouthing his rehearsed speech to himself in the mirror did not prepare John to deliver it to Mary."

Answer: Mirror

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Syntax: Sinfully taxing rules for structuring sentences. (See Linguist)

Linguists speak of four types of gerunds:

1. Acc-ing - receives an accusative (John mouthing the speech)
2. PRO-ing - no overt subject (mouthing the speech)
3. Poss-ing - the object of a possessive (John's mouthing the speech)
4. Ing-of - becomes the object of the preposition "of" (John's mouthing of the speech).

All four types of gerund phrases function within a sentence as noun phrases (NPs). They can be used a subject, a direct object, the object of a preposition, or a subject complement. However, the first three types of gerund phrases are termed "verbal gerunds" and function internally like verbs - taking the same complements as the verb from which they are derived, being modified by adverbs and not by adjectives, and having an optional subject. The fourth type of gerund phrase is termed a "nominal gerund" and functions internally as a nominal. The difference is, perhaps, best demonstrated by the fact that the nominal ing-of gerund takes an adjectival rather than an adverbial modifier. Thus we can use the nominal gerund "the silent mouthing of John in front of the mirror" (silent is an adjective) or the verbal gerund "John silently mouthing in front of the mirror" (silently is an adverb).

The standard theory to account for the emergence of verbal gerunds holds that gerunds began to take on verbal properties because present participles came to have the same "ing" ending as gerunds. Verbal functions began to be assigned to gerund phrases as the result of a kind of syntactical confusion.
7. Old English had only two tenses: past and present. In Old English, the present tense continuous aspect was formed in the following fashion: "Ende" was appended to a verb to produce a participial form. This was preceded by the Old English equivalent of "is" to produce the present continuous. Which of the following is a modern English present continuous construction?

Answer: I am taking stock.

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Pragmatics: A technical term for the arcane if not mystical process by which a linguist infers what a speaker/writer really means from what the words actually mean.

Modern English parallels Old English in having only two tenses: present and past. An auxiliary verb will generally be used to express the future tense (as has been done in this sentence), but the future action may be implied within a present construction. For instance, I utilize a present perfect construction to say, "I am continuing to read 'Great Expectations'". When am I reading it? The word "continue" implies I have been reading "Great Expectations" in the past. Yet, the context of the participial form "continuing" implies that I will be reading it in the future. And when couldn't I have been reading "Great Expectations"? In the present moment of my uttering the present continuous sentence, "I am continuing to read 'Great Expectations'"! Could this be an example of pragmatic irony?

Modern English also utilizes two aspects: continuous (also termed progressive) and perfect. In fact, is possible to utilize both aspects within the same simple sentence. Consider the sentence, "I had been reading 'Great Expectations'". The helping verb "had" is perfect, indicating completed action: "I had been reading, but I am reading no more." On the other hand, reading is the action that has been completed in past time; yet reading is continuous in aspect.
8. In order to successfully add "ing" to a two syllable word either one must have mastered the rather convoluted spelling rules governing the process, or one must have obtained computational orthographic software (a spellchecker). However, one should be clear on just exactly which English dialect one's spellchecker speaks. Which of the following spellings is correct in Manchester but incorrect in Chicago?

Answer: Modelling

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Applied computational linguistics: The overly optimistic branch of applied linguistics concerned with reducing the irrational complexity of human language to neat binary logic.

Natural language processing: Teaching computers to listen, read, translate, write, talk and (especially) spell.

The basic rule for doubling the final letter of suffixed two syllable words ending in a single consonant is to double the consonant if the final syllable is accented. Thus, we have "benefiting", "committing" and "beginning" on both sides of the Atlantic. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. These exceptions are generally the same in both American and British English but... again there is an exception: words ending in a single "l" not accented on the final syllable. Thus "model" and "signal" become "modeling" and "signaling" in Chicago but "modelling" and "signalling" in Manchester. (My MS-Word spellchecker is so rabidly Yankee that I must turn off the "AutoCorrect" feature to be allowed to type "signalling".)

The typical English instructor, editor or amateur pedant will often complain of the irrationality and complexity of English spellings - yet, at the same time, take almost perverse delight in correcting the appalling spelling of other people. An English teacher in my area takes a hard line on the misspelling of certain common words by his honors English students, dropping their grade on a paper to a "D" automatically for a single transgression!

In his book "The Mother Tongue", Bill Bryson relates a story about author Lincoln Barnett that ought to temper our zeal for pointing out the spelling sins of our fellow men. In a book Lincoln Barnett wrote on the English language, Mr. Barnett criticizes the sorry spelling of collegians, observing, "An English examination at New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson University disclosed that less than one quarter of the freshmen class could spell 'professor' correctly". Bill Bryson asks, "I wonder, for my part, how many of them could spell 'freshman class'". (Note that Professor Barnett has misspelled "freshman".)
9. In writing this quiz I have encountered a number of different forms ending in "ing". The gerund phrase is my favorite. Which of the following is NOT a feature of gerund phrases?

Answer: Gerund phrases always utilize a very simple internal structure.

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Gerundive: A Latin verbal adjective, which may function as a present participle. (Question: What would modern liguistics have without Latin grammar? Answer: Greater clarity.)

The potential complexity of the gerund phrase is responsible for the phenomenal scope and usefulness of this construction. Because it functions as a noun phrase, commas are seldom needed. It is not a modifier, and therefore ambiguous references can be created only with difficulty. Incidentally, the word "gerund" aptly derives from a Latin verb meaning "to carry on".
10. The potentially subtle difference between a verbal noun and a gerund resulted in a courteous error report that became the inspiration for this quiz. The word "euphemism" may itself be used as a euphemism for a word that begins in "L". Which "L" word has the proper grammatical credentials to be the word for which euphemism may be a euphemism, lie or lying?

Answer: lie

An excerpt from Uglybird's Linguistic Glossary

Hypercorrection: A grammatical faux pas resulting from a failed attempt to show off one's erudition. Example: "I wrote this quiz for the benefit of both you and I."

Idiolect: The speech pattern that characterizes a particular idiot.

As Ing pointed out to me, "lying" describes a process and "lie" an act. Because euphemism is a simple noun denoting an act, use of "lying", which is a gerund denoting the process of lying, would not be appropriate. (Yes, "Ing" is the FT name of the person who sent the error report.)

Idiolect is, properly, the speech of a particular individual. Idiocy is not a requirement.
Source: Author uglybird

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