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    #1

    by telling workers that they packed boxes

    Hello,

    I'm reading a text from Business Benchmark, CUP, p.126, and don't seem to understand the grammar of one sentence. The context is as follows:

    The study is based on interviews with managers at more than 720 manufacturing companies in America, Britain, France and Germany. The answers were given a score between 1, the worst, and 5, the best, in each of 18 categories. ... An American manufacturer that communicated financial targets by telling workers that they packed boxes until lunchtime to cover overheads and after that for profit scored a full 5.

    Does 'that they packed boxes" mean "that they should pack boxes"?
    Can the past simple be replaced with the subjunctive "...by telling workers that they pack boxes"?

    Thank you.

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    #2

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    Can the past simple be replaced with the subjunctive "...by telling workers that they pack boxes"?
    That depends on what it's supposed to mean in my opinion. The subjunctive version means "telling workers to pack boxes", whereas the past tense means "informing workers that they packed boxes".

    There seems to be some disagreement on these things though, so I'm not sure I'm right.

  1. Bennevis's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    An American manufacturer that communicated financial targets by telling workers that they packed boxes until lunchtime to cover overheads and after that for profit scored a full 5.

    Manufacturer: Ok, guys, we're now covering ours overheads.

    later

    Manufacturer: Alrite, and now we're packing them for profit. Good job! Way to go, guys!

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    #4

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    Does 'that they packed boxes" mean "that they should pack boxes"?
    Not to me.
    Can the past simple be replaced with the subjunctive "...by telling workers that they pack boxes"?
    No.
    Thank you.
    The sentence doesn't make sense to me. I can't see how they are communicating "targets" by telling workers what they've done in the past.

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    #5

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Verona_82 View Post
    Does 'that they packed boxes" mean "that they should pack boxes"?
    Can the past simple be replaced with the subjunctive "...by telling workers that they pack boxes"?

    Thank you.
    No. he manufacturer is communicating a fact to the workers, "You pack boxes (or whatever other job it is you do) until lunchtime just to generate income to cover costs. After that time the money generated by your labour is profit". Indirect speech - The manufacturer told the workers that they packed...

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    #6

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    I get it now!
    Thank you!

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    #7

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    No. he manufacturer is communicating a fact to the workers, "You pack boxes (or whatever other job it is you do) until lunchtime just to generate income to cover costs. After that time the money generated by your labour is profit". Indirect speech - The manufacturer told the workers that they packed...
    Can't we use the subjunctive with"tell" when we're talking about giving orders?

  4. Bennevis's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Can't we use subjunctive with"tell" when we're talking about giving orders?
    It looks like here we should've used the subjunctive mood here. But there is a difference between telling someone to do something and explaining what it is all about.

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    #9

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    It looks like here we should've used the subjunctive mood here. But there is a difference between telling someone to do something and explaining what it is all about.
    There is a difference. But Raymott and fivejedjon said the subjunctive was wrong and I don't understand why.

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    #10

    Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    There is a difference. But Raymott and fivejedjon said the subjunctive was wrong and I don't understand why.
    As I explained in post #5, Verona's sentence is a reported fact. I interpreted it as the manufacturer explaining the facts of life to the workers - "As you know, you pack boxes all day - that is what you do. Well, you may be interested to know that the work you do (packing boxes) until lunchtime covers the overheads. The work you do after lunchtime brings in the profits.".

    If he had been giving an order: "(You must) pack boxes until lunchtime....", this would have been reported as: he told them to pack boxes/he ordered them to pack boxes/he told them that they should pack boxes. I don't think that it can be reported as he told them that they pack boxes.

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