Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bits and pieces - some exercises on partitive nouns

We use several words to talk about one bit or part or a large amount of something when using uncountable nouns. These are sometimes called partitive nouns and many of them collocate with certain nouns. test your knowledge with these exercises. (One or two of the examples here are used with countable nouns).

Exercise 1 - Decide whether these nouns refer to a small amount (or one part) of something, or rather to large or largeish amount of something

small amount
or one part
large amount
1.a bit of something
2.a heap of something
3.an item of something
4.a load of something
5.a lump of something
6.a pile of something
7.a piece of something
8.a portion of something
9.a sample of something
10.a stack of something
In more informal language we use several of the words meaning a lot in the plural
We use there is with uncountable nouns, and there are with plural nouns. We sometimes also use there's with plural nouns in informal speech.
  • Lots of people came to the wedding.
  • There's loads of washing to do
  • There's still heaps of time before we need to leave.
  • I've got piles of work to do.
  • There are / There's stacks of rubbish bags in the cupboard.
Note - There are a lot of words in these exercises, many of which will be new to you. Don't try to learn them all at one time. Just repeat the exercises now and then, looking a few of them up in a dictionary, and they will begin to become more familiar.
Click and Drop - Where you see this sign, mouse over for instructions
Some partitive nouns are only or usually used with certain nouns

Exercise 2 - Choose the correct option.

1The land was so dry there wasn't a of grass to be seen.
rasher - blade - mountain - wall
2She put a of perfume behind each ear.
lick - pat - dab - jet
3There wasn't a(n) of truth in what he told the court.
blade - iota - pat - dab
4A of water shot from the centre of the lake.
pinch - jet - dab - blade
5This room could do with a of paint.
pinch - lick - blade - mountain
6There wasn't the slightest of food to be found anywhere.
morsel - iota - dab - lick
7When he got back there was a of work waiting for him.
pat - rasher - stick - mountain
8They're so stingy they only give you one of butter.
wall - blade - morsel - pat
9This soup could do with a of salt.
pat - lick - blade - pinch
10Would you like another of bacon?
pinch - dab - morsel - rasher
11One of dynamite was all that was needed to blow the old cave open.
stick - lick - wall - blade
12His complaints to the council were met by a of silence.
morsel - wall - stick - mountain
In the next four exercises each particle noun in the box can be matched to one set of three sentences.

Exercise 3 - Match one word in the box to each set of three sentences.

  ·   dose   ·   spot   ·   crumb   ·   trickle   ·   touch
1.
a) Only a ............... of water came from the tap.
b) A ............... of blood was was coming from the cut on his finger.
c) A small ............... of people started to leave the theatre.
2.
a) There was a ............... of bread on his mouth.
b) This could be only be a small ............... of comfort.
c) We were able to get a few ...............s of information on the Internet.
3.
a) He's off work as has a ............... of flu.
b) When I went outside there was a ............... of frost in the air.
c) There was a ............... of irony in his voice.
4.
a) Take a ............... of this medicine before each meal.
b) She had a ............... of the flu last week, but she's okay now.
c) Some workers at the plant received a small ............... of radiation.
5.
a) I need some help. I'm in a ............... of bother at the moment.
b) I think it's time for a ............... of lunch, don't you?
c) And afterwards we can go for a ............... of shopping.

Exercise 4 - Match one word in the box to each set of three sentences.

lump   ·   grain   ·   stroke   ·   dash   ·   torrent
1.
a) Now add a ............... of lemon juice to give it a bit of zing.
b) His music is mainly folk with just a ............... of jazz.
c) She usually wears black with just a .............. of colour, for example a red scarf.
2.
a) There is not a ............... of truth in what he is saying about me.
b) There are plenty of other ...............s of sand on the beach.
c) How many ...............s of sugar are there in a sugar cube?
3.
a) How much sugar would you like? One ............... or two?
b) On New Year's Eve, it is traditional to bring shortbread, whisky and a ............... of coal.
c) In the fridge there was just a ............... of nondescript-looking cheese.
4.
a) You haven't done a ............... of work all day, you lazy so-and-so.
b) That was a ............... of luck picking up those cheap tickets.
c) Using a string quartet on 'Yesterday' was a ............... of sheer genius.
5.
a) A ............... of water flowed from the broken pipe.
b) A ............... of questions followed the fascinating talk.
c) The heckler at Speaker's Corner was met with a ............... of abuse.

Exercise 5 - Match one word in the box to each set of three sentences.

item   ·   drop   ·   trace   ·   scrap   ·   slice
1.
a) There wasn't a ............... of milk to be found in the house.
b) What started with a few ...............s of rain quickly became a downpour.
c) There were a few ...............s of blood on the ground where he had passed.
2.
a) And for the next news ..............., we go over to our parliamentary correspondent.
b) You'll need to get a proper receipt for every ............... of expenditure.
c) In the suitcase were some books and several ...............s of clothing.
3.
a) I'm afraid what you say doesn't make a ............... of difference.
b) There wasn't a ............... of evidence against him.
c) On the table lay several ...............s of paper and a pen.
4.
a) He helped himself to a ............... of toast and some marmalade.
b) Processed cheese often comes in packaged ...............s.
c) Would you like a ............... of lemon with your gin and tonic?
5.
a) Was there perhaps a ............... of irony in his voice as he complimented her?
b) The police found ...............s of poison in an empty wine glass.
c) He's French, but he speaks English without the faintest ............... of an accent.

Exercise 6 - Match one word in the box to each set of three sentences.

strip   ·   sprinkling   ·   shred   ·   ray   ·   pool
1.
a) There was not a ............... of evidence against them, so they were let free.
b) He went grovelling to the boss. He hasn't a ............... of dignity, that one.
c) Decorate the cake with thin ...............s of orange peel.
2.
a) After the rain there were ...............s of water all over the road.
b) Under each streetlamp was a ............... of light.
c) Once the cat had seen it, the pool of spilt milk quickly disappeared...............Once the cat had seen it, the pool of spilt milk quickly disappeared.
3.
a) The room was suddenly lit up by a ............... of sunshine coming through the window.
b) A ............... of light came from the torch he was holding.
c) Things were looking desperate, but there was still a ............... of hope they would find him alive.
4.
a) The waiter added a ............... of pepper to their pasta.
b) We woke up to find a ............... of snow on the grass outside.
c) Only a ............... of people turned up to the store opening.
5.
a) The island is separated from the mainland by a narrow ............... of water.
b) First cover the balloon with ...............s of newspaper dipped in the glue mixture.
c) An isthmus is narrow ............... of land connecting two larger land masses.
In the next three exercises each particle noun in the box can be matched to the gaps in two sentences.
blob   ·   shard   ·   flake   ·   snippet   ·   dollop   ·   article

Exercise 7 - Choose the correct option.

1A of snow landed on his nose and quickly melted.
dollop - flake - blob - article
2We could hear s of music coming from the room next door.
blob - snippet - flake - dollop
3Only three s of clothing may be taken into the changing room.
snippet - article - dollop - flake
4Very little information was coming out, just a here and there.
dollop - snippet - flake - shard
5Small s of coloured light danced around on the walls of the nightclub.
blob - snippet - shard - dollop
6It was a(n) of faith for him that voting was a civic duty.
snippet - blob - dollop - article
7There's nothing quite like having a of romance in your life.
shard - flake - blob - dollop
8There were some s of dried paint on the floor.
dollop - flake - shard - blob
9Near the broken window lay some s of broken glass.
article - shard - blob - dollop
10A of metal had lodged itself in his leg.
shard - dollop - flake - blob
11A small of ink appeared on the paper. His pen must be leaking.
shard - blob - flake - snippet
12Top the chocolate mousse with a of whipped cream.
snippet - dollop - article - flake
smidgen   ·   particle   ·   heap   ·   gush   ·   ball   ·   glimmer

Exercise 8 - Choose the correct option.

1A faint of light to the east indicated the coming of dawn.
ball - gush - glimmer - heap
2The kitten played happily with the of wool.
gush - heap - smidgen - ball
3Add a of mashed potato to each portion and flash it under the grill.
glimmer - smidgen - scoop - ball
4We've still got s of time, no need to hurry.
smidgen - gush - heap - ball
5I'll just take a of milk in my coffee, thanks.
glimmer - heap - smidgen - gush
6She was suddenly overcome by a of emotion.
scoop - ball - gush - smidgen
7A of water was coming from the broken pipe.
smidgen - glimmer - heap - gush
8There was still a of hope that some of them might have survived.
ball - glimmer - smidgen - heap
9Do cars burst into a of flame in real life, or only in films?
smidgen - ball - scoop - heap
10There's a of milk on your chin. Hold still and I'll wipe it off.
smidgen - ball - glimmer - heap
11There was a of rubble at the entrance to the mine shaft.
scoop - gush - ball - heap
12How many s of ice-cream do you want?
gush - smidgen - scoop - glimmer
segment   ·   fragment   ·   stub   ·   modicum   ·   gust

Exercise 9 - Choose the correct option.

1The usherette tore the tickets in half and gave us back the s.
gust - fragment - stub - modicum
2With a of luck, we should get there before nightfall.
modicum - stub - gust - segment
3There was a tiny of glass on the window sill.
fragment - gust - modicum - segment
4There was a single cigarette in the ashtray.
gust - stub - fragment - modicum
5I was only able to catch small s of their conversation.
fragment - segment - gust - stub
6Her act brought s of laughter from the audience.
segment - stub - modicum - gust
7You're so rude. I wish you could show at least a of decorum.
stub - modicum - stub - gust
8Divide the orange into s and place on top of the ice-cream.
gust - stub - segment - modicum
9A sudden of wind blew his hat off.
modicum - gust - fragment - segment
10And what of the market are you aiming at with this product?
segment - fragment - stub - gust
sliver   ·   particle   ·   speck   ·   chunk   ·   scintilla

Exercise 10 - Choose the correct option.

1Cut the cheese into small bite-size s and serve with red wine.
sliver - speck - chunk - particle
2Her house was meticulously clean, with not a of dust to be seen.
particle - speck - scintilla - chunk
3A narrow of light came from under the door.
scintilla - particle - sliver - chunk
4There wasn't a of truth in what he said.
scintilla - sliver - particle - speck
5There seemed to be a of dirt on one of the lenses of his glasses.
particle - speck - sliver - scintilla
6A of masonry had fallen off the old crumbling building.
speck - particle - scintilla - chunk
7Dust consists of s of dirt etc. in the atmosphere.
sliver - speck - particle - chunk
8In physics, a is a very small object which can be measured.
particle - chunk - speck - scintilla
9Careful, there are still one or two s of glass from the broken vase.
sliver - scintilla - speck - chunk
10If they had a of evidence, they would arrest him.
chunk - scintilla - speck - sliver

Answers

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