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Sunday, 30 September 2012

On one page

I have a student who comes to me for private tutorials on Sunday afternoons. We often go through questions from his books that have left him puzzled. Today was especially interesting as it seemed to feature the full range of impossible to answer Chinese questions. Frankly it's the worst book I've ever seen.

Here is a sample of questions which all came from the same page and the reasons that I think they are ridiculous.

Remember that for any question there is only ONE right answer.


Choose the correct answer


3. Because the situation in that country __________, all the foreigners are leaving.

a) is getting worse b) has got worse c) was getting worse d) had got worse.


Clearly both a) and b) are correct.


4. What about going to the match tonight?

  Why notAnd I __________ my friend with me.

a)       am taking b) have taken c) take d) would take


The only one that comes close to fitting is d) but  it doesn't sound right and isn't logical. The best answers "can take" or "could take" aren't there at all.


8. I __________ Beijing tomorrow. Do you know when the earliest plane __________?

a) leave for; takes off

b) am leaving for; takes off

c) leave for; is taking off

d) am leaving for; is taking off


I'm fairly sure they want b) but all four answers are perfectly normal idiomatic English.


9. How long __________ here?

  I'm not sure?


a)       do you stay b) are you staying c) would you stay d) did you say


Both b) and c) could fit depending on the circumstances in which the question was asked.


10 Tom, you __________ books about.


a)       have always thrown b) always throw c) are always throwing d) always threw


All of the answers form perfectly grammatical sentences, albeit with slightly different meanings.


Fill in the gaps with the correct form of the indicated verb.


12. The students took eight subjects this term. They __________(take)  six subjects next term.


I can think of at least four immediately without even considering the possibility of modals  (take/will take/are taking/will be taking)


13 At this time tomorrow we __________(have)  a meeting.


Again several forms spring to mind


14. Tom didn't go to school today. He __________(not go) tomorrow, either.




17. My friends came over last night. They __________(come over) tonight too.


And that, as I say is all from one page of the book. No wonder my poor student was having a hard time figuring it all out. He made a lot of careful notes which he said he wants to show to his Chinese English teacher. I wonder what the reaction will be.