An Online Catalogue of English Grammar Exercises

A story to read for pleasure:

Something for Nothing

A few months ago I was broke*. I had no money at all. I had nothing to eat and nothing to drink and nowhere to live. It was terrible.
Then I met a friend in the street. He bought me a cup of tea and I told him my problems.
He laughed. 'No problem', he said, 'I can tell you what to do….but you can only do it once!'
'What?' I asked hopefully.
'Well! You put an advertisement in the newspaper. I'll lend you the money to do it.'
'What am I advertising?' I asked, mystified*.
'You offer to send a picture of the Queen by a famous artist for £5. Then you sit and watch the money roll in!'
'How many people will want a picture of the Queen for £5?' I asked.                                     'You'd be surprised!' he smiled.
He lent me some money and I put the ad in the newspaper. I put it in the Sunday newspaper because I thought there would be more replies. There were 250 replies. Each letter enclosed £5. I was rich! I met my friend and gave him back the money he had lent me.
'Have you sent the pictures?' he asked. 'You'll be in trouble with the police if you don't!'
I was frightened*. 'No, I haven't!'
'You must do it immediately!' he told me.
'How? I can't paint 250 pictures of the Queen!'
When he told me what to do I began to smile.
What did he tell me to do?

The answer is at the bottom of the page.

To be Broke = to have no money
To be mystified = you don't understand the situation
To give back = to return
To be frightened = to be afraid. (look it up in your dictionary)

Grammar: Notice the irregular Simple Past Tenses: met (meet), lent (lend), put (put), thought (think), gave (give), told (tell). (look the verbs in the brackets (…) up in your dictionary if you don't know them. Question form: did he tell ..?
Notice the Past Perfect: he had lent me
Notice the Present Perfect: have you sent…. And the 'tag' reply, 'No, I haven't'
Notice the spontaneous offer: 'I'll lend you the money…'
Notice 'will' to predict something in the future: you'll be in trouble, how many people will want… This is a different use of 'will' from the one above.

Answer: send each person an English stamp with a picture of the Queen on it.

Read The A - Z of English Grammar & Usage for the rules.

click here to go back

© 1996 - 2009