Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16
  1. #1
    Verona_82 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    991
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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.

  2. #2
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    5,099
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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.

  3. #3
    Bennevis's Avatar
    Bennevis is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    952
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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!

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    19,554
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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...

  6. #6
    Verona_82 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Ukraine
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    991
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: by telling workers that they packed boxes

    I get it now!
    Thank you!

  7. #7
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    5,099
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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?

  8. #8
    Bennevis's Avatar
    Bennevis is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    952
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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.

  9. #9
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    5,099
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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.

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default 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.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. carton boxes
    By Ju in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 02-May-2011, 23:06
  2. large boxes of freebies in church porch
    By thedaffodils in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 12-Oct-2008, 01:12
  3. Concerning construction workers
    By Stromgol in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 25-May-2008, 17:19
  4. Please line up the boxes for us to check.
    By angliholic in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 05-Feb-2008, 12:21
  5. Sub headings and text boxes.
    By soopamax in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 21-Mar-2007, 14:29

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •