Author Topic: On Grammar  (Read 5942 times)

Miss Mae

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On Grammar
« on: June 20, 2013, 01:55:54 PM »
Could you please explain why have should be the answer? I thought writers can use were when expressing a condition.

11.  A cousin of mine recently gave me a hardbound collection of the 500 most outstanding short stories in English. Because the book is quite thick, I cannot carry it around to read outside the house. However, if I __________ to go out of town on a weekend, I would definitely take that book with me.

(a) were
(b) have
(c) am
(d) was

My answer: A
Correct answer: B

Note: The sentence was from G-TELP Level 2 Grammar Sample Test #1]G-TELP Level 2 Grammar Sample Test #1
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 09:52:48 AM by Joe Carillo »

Joe Carillo

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Re: On Grammar
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2013, 10:05:04 AM »
By choosing Answer Choice (A) “were,” the sentence in question would read as follows:

“However, if I were to go out of town on a weekend, I would definitely take that book with me.”

This is a sentence with a subjunctive “if”-clause—” if I were to go out of town on a weekend.” Recall that sentences in the subjunctive mood denote acts or states that are contingent on possible outcomes of the speaker’s wish, desire, or doubt, as opposed to denoting acts and states in real-world situations, which is what sentences in the indicative mood do. In the particular form of the subjunctive using an “if”-clause, the verb “be” exhibits maverick or irregular behavior. It sticks to the past-tense subjunctive form “were” all throughout, regardless of the person and number of its subject: “She acts as if she were a member of royalty.” “They avoided the man as if he were a leper.” “The people behaved as if their future were a big joke.” In such constructions, “were” deceptively looks and behaves as if it were consistently plural and in the past tense.

In the context of the whole passage in the test, however, the sentence in question is clearly not in the subjunctive mood but in the indicative mood. This is because the idea it conveys is a real-world situation—a simple statement about doing something (bring a book) in the event that the speaker does something perfectly actionable in the future (go out of town on a weekend).

This being the case, the possible correct answers can only be “(B) have,” “(C) am,” or “(D) was.” It couldn’t be “(D) was” because what we have here is an intended action in the future, not in the past. It couldn’t be “(C) am” either because although grammatically possible, the sentence “However, if I am to go out of town on a weekend, I would definitely take that book with me” is not really a true conditional sentence because the use of “am” in the “if”-clause makes it a simple declaration, not a condition.

This leaves “(B) have” as the only possible correct answer. The question, of course, is why it is grammatically correct. By inspection, we will find that the sentence “However, if I have to go out of town on a weekend, I would definitely take that book with me” fulfills the three grammatical conditions needed for that sentence to be grammatically and semantically correct: (a) futurity, (b) a desire or sense of obligation to do the indicated action, and (c) real-world conditionality. Hence, “(B) have” is the only possible correct answer in this particular test.

By the way, if many Forum members have found this particular test difficult, it's because G-TELP Level 2 is actually the second to the highest level of this 5-level English proficiency test. The skill description for Level 2 is “Authentic modified English in normal communication,” which demands a rather high level of English proficiency, one that approaches mastery. This makes it not a particularly easy test for nonnative English speakers. In comparison, G-TELP Level 1, “Authentic English in complex communication,” is designed to test the suitability of native English speakers or almost-native English speakers for professional-level English-language broadcasting, teaching, and other high-level communication tasks.

Click this link to the G-TELP Level Test Table
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 04:17:37 PM by Joe Carillo »

Miss Mae

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Re: On Grammar
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2013, 02:54:34 PM »
So figure out the mood first. Thank you.