Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

More from Chinese exams

Once again today I was approached by a colleague bearing a Chinese
produced English test paper. He had two queries.

One question read

"The child ____________ because he __________ his mother.

a) cried, missed
b) was crying, missed
c) was crying, was missing
d) cried, was missing"

Which, he asked, was correct.

The trouble, as usual, is that all four of those answers form
perfectly grammatical sentences in English. The precise circumstances
of their use might vary slightly but none of them are wrong.

The second question was one where the student had to fill the blank
with an appropriate form of the given verb.

He __________(leave) his job last September and he _____________
(work) in another city now.

Nothing hard about the first one. Clearly the form is "left". What
about the second one? Either "works" or "is working" seem to fit the
bill perfectly. Leaving aside subtleties about whether "works" applies
to a permanent position and "is working" to a more temporary one, both
versions are perfectly fine.

How does anyone ever pass an English exam in China?

I couldn't explain either of them adequately. I just had to shrug and
say that, once again, the questions as phrased were, in my opinion,
impossible to answer.