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  1. #1
    joham is offline Key Member
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    Default figure out why/ when

    One of China's 2004 national examination questions:
    We cannot figure out _____ quite a number of insects, birds and animals are dying out.
    A. that B. as C. why D. when
    The given answer is C. But I would think D is also correct. Am I right?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: figure out why/ when

    Why does 'when' also fit? - please explain.

  3. #3
    henz988 is offline Member
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    Default Re: figure out why/ when

    When does not work here because the verb is in present continuous (are dying), which indicates an action occurring now. Therefore the question (when?) is nonsensical-- it is answered by the verb itself. If indeed they are dying out, when must be now.

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    Default Re: figure out why/ when

    There you have it = Henz has explained, made it clear, given the answer.

    For 'when' to work, the sentence would need to be something along the lines of:

    "We cannot figure out just when quite a number of insects, birds and animals started dying out."

  5. #5
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    engee30 is offline Key Member
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    Smile Re: figure out why/ when

    Quote Originally Posted by henz988 View Post
    When does not work here because the verb is in present continuous (are dying), which indicates an action occurring now. Therefore the question (when?) is nonsensical-- it is answered by the verb itself. If indeed they are dying out, when must be now.
    No, joham is right in his reasoning.
    Why should they just be asking about the reason why something happens (in this case why a large number of insects, birds and animals are dying out). They could as well be asking when such terrible thing takes place:

    Quite a large number of insects, birds and animals are dying out. Why is that?
    We don't know the exact time of day when this happens. So we cannot figure out when quite a large number of insects, birds and animals are dying out.



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    Default Re: figure out why/ when

    engee:
    These national exams and entrance tests delight in using one-sentence statements, with no further context.
    In the sentence quoted by Joham, only "why' fits with the tense 'are dying'.
    You have added a sentence which provides a context, and a context specifically referring to 'time' :
    We don't know the exact time of day when this happens. So we cannot figure out when quite a large number of insects, birds and animals are dying out.

    However, the two sentences together don't make sense. It starts: 'we don't know the exact time' when this happens
    this must refer to ='when they are dying out '-

    then it says, 'we cannot figure out when' ..when what? the exact time that it happens? That's just been said in the first sentence.

  7. #7
    joham is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: figure out why/ when

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    One of China's 2004 national examination questions:
    We cannot figure out _____ quite a number of insects, birds and animals are dying out.
    A. that B. as C. why D. when
    The given answer is C. But I would think D is also correct. Am I right?

    Thank you in advance.
    Thank you, David. I got it. Then 'when' would be right if we say '
    'We cannot figure out when quite a number of insects, birds and animals are going to/will die out'?

    Thank you again.

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    Default Re: figure out why/ when

    You've got it joham.

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