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  1. #1
    fullmoon8011 is offline Newbie
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    Question tenses used after "so that"

    hello everybody,
    i really need help for my exams correction. (urgent)

    consider the sentence:
    the policeman stopped tha traffic so that the blind man [crosses/ can cross/ crossed/ would cross/ could cross] the street.


    1. what options should be left what others should be eliminated?
    2. does the use of the past tense "stopped", automatically implies the use of the past for "cross"?
    3. is it necessary to use a modal at all?


    thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by fullmoon8011 View Post
    hello everybody,
    i really need help for my exams correction. (urgent)

    consider the sentence:
    The policeman stopped the traffic so that the blind man [crosses/ can cross/ crossed/ would cross/ could cross] the street.


    1. what options should be left what others should be eliminated?
    2. does the use of the past tense "stopped", automatically implies the use of the past for "cross"?
    3. is it necessary to use a modal at all?


    thanks in advance.
    What is your answer?

  3. #3
    fullmoon8011 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    my answer is that all of them are acceptable especially that there is no sufficient context that excludes the use of the present or past tense. some collegues think that since the first verb is in the past the second should be in the past too.

  4. #4
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by fullmoon8011 View Post
    my answer is that all of them are acceptable especially that there is no sufficient context that excludes the use of the present or past tense. some collegues think that since the first verb is in the past the second should be in the past too.
    Only "crossed", "could cross" and "would cross" are possible. "could cross" is more likely.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    The policeman stopped the traffic so that the blind man [crosses/ can cross/ crossed/ would cross/ could cross] the street.

    I agree that 'could cross' is more likely. The policeman stopped the traffic in order to create a situation in which it was possible for the blind man to cross.
    Policeman: I am stopping the traffic so that he can cross the road.

    I think 'would cross' is possible, but unlikely. It suggests that the policeman stopped the traffic in order to create a situation in which the the blind man's crossing was almost inevitable.
    Policeman: I am stopping the traffic so that he will cross the road.

    I think 'crossed' is very unlikely. 'So that' is rarely used today with the meaning of 'with the result that', which is what the past simple would suggest.
    Policeman. I stopped the traffic. As a result of this, he crossed the road.

    Compare:

    I beckoned to him so that he would cross the road to talk to me.
    I stopped the traffic so that he could cross the road.
    There were no cars coming, so (that) he crossed the road safely.

  6. #6
    anglitha is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    Only could cross the road is possible. The traffic was stopped to make the action possible and as it was in the past could must be used to show ability,

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by anglitha View Post
    Only "could cross the road" is possible. The traffic was stopped to make the action possible and as it was in the past "could"must be used to show ability,
    As bhai and I have already said, "could cross" is more likely. However, 'would cross' and 'crossed' are possible in certain contexts.
    Last edited by 5jj; 11-Feb-2013 at 11:40.

  8. #8
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by fullmoon8011 View Post
    hello everybody,
    i really need help for my exams correction. (urgent)

    consider the sentence:
    the policeman stopped tha traffic so that the blind man [crosses/ can cross/ crossed/ would cross/ could cross] the street.


    1. what options should be left what others should be eliminated?
    2. does the use of the past tense "stopped", automatically implies the use of the past for "cross"?
    3. is it necessary to use a modal at all?


    thanks in advance.
    If you are a teacher, please start your sentences with capital letters, and more importantly, please teach your students that this is mandatory in English.

  9. #9
    fullmoon8011 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    If you are a teacher, please start your sentences with capital letters, and more importantly, please teach your students that this is mandatory in English.
    Thanks you for your answers and for reminding me of the importance of capitalization. I agree with the order: could
    / would/ crossed. I would like to push the debate a little further especially that in an exam correction situation we have to accept all grammatically correct answers even less probable ones.

    If you consider the following context:
    The policeman stopped the traffic but the blind man has not started crossing the street yet or is taking time to do so. Would the present or can be accepted? (I mean is there any possible context that allows the use of can or the s.present?)

  10. #10
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenses used after "so that"

    Quote Originally Posted by fullmoon8011 View Post
    Thanks you for your answers and for reminding me of the importance of capitalization. I agree with the order: could
    / would/ crossed. I would like to push the debate a little further especially that in an exam correction situation we have to accept all grammatically correct answers even less probable ones.

    If you consider the following context:
    The policeman stopped the traffic but the blind man has not started crossing the street yet or is taking time to do so. Would the present or can be accepted? (I mean is there any possible context that allows the use of can or the s.present?)
    First, a few points.
    1) To me, "so" doesn't always mean "so that".
    "The policeman stopped the traffic so [that] the man could cross the road." (The reason that the policeman stopped the traffic was in order to allow the man to cross the road.)
    "The policeman stopped the traffic, so the man crossed the road." (The policeman stopped the traffic for reasons best known to him, and the man took advantage of this by crossing the road.) I don't think "so that" belongs with that meaning, so I would reject "crossed".
    "The policeman stopped the traffic so [that] the man would cross the road." (The policeman wanted the man to cross the road, and he decided that stopping the traffic would make that happen.) This is unlikely.
    In my opinion, "could cross" is the only likely answer.

    2) "...especially that in an exam correction situation we have to accept all grammatically correct answers even less probable ones."
    I disagree with this. There are many weird senses/contexts in which a sentence could be made grammatical. It is merely sufficient to make a note on the exam that only the most likely answer is correct. Of course, you do have to know which is the most likely answer, but that's not an added problem because, with your idea, you have to know all the weird grammatically correct possibilities.

    To your question: "can" is not right in that sentence. The main clause is in the past tense. He stopped the traffic.
    By "s.present", are you asking whether, "The policeman stopped the traffic so [that] the man crosses the road"? That's wrong too for the same reason.

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