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    #1

    Question in the past tense

    In a comprehension exercise, can a question be phrased in the past tense when the passage is in the present tense?

    The writer of this comprehension book gives an exercise which has a question in the past tense . Is this the correct practice in setting questions? In my opinion, it isn't correct? I I would like to know whether I'm right.

    The passage is about an alien named Zigor, which has come to our Earth and a boy is giving him shelter in his house while it is waiting for the arrival of his UFO companion which has not yet returned in his flying craft to pick him up to return to their planet together.

    The following is the question:

    1. Which word in the passage tells you that Zigor was seeking refuge at Daniel's House? (question in past tense)

    Many thanks.
    Last edited by Tan Elaine; 29-Sep-2008 at 05:59.


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    #2

    Re: Question in the past tense

    Not a teacher.

    That question is actually in the present tense.

    Which word in the passage tells you that Zigor was seeking refuge at Daniel's House?

    The verb "tells" is present, so the question is present. You would answer in the present tense:

    "The word that tells me that Zigor was seeking refuge at Daniel's house is _____."

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    #3

    Re: Question in the past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by thedeebo View Post
    Not a teacher.

    That question is actually in the present tense.

    Which word in the passage tells you that Zigor was seeking refuge at Daniel's House?

    The verb "tells" is present, so the question is present. You would answer in the present tense:

    "The word that tells me that Zigor was seeking refuge at Daniel's house is _____."
    The word 'was' indicates that the question is in the past tense. The fact is that the alien is still on Earth and hasn't returned to his planet yet as his companion has not yet returned in their aircraft to pick him up and go back to their planet together.

    IMO, the question should be: Which word in the passage tells you that Zigor is (NOT was) seeking refuge at Daniel's House?
    Last edited by Tan Elaine; 29-Sep-2008 at 09:29.


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    #4

    Re: Question in the past tense

    The word that tells you that Zigor was seeking refuge at Daniel's house does not change, and still exists. You would not use the past tense to describe a word that is being used currently in the work itself.

    For example:
    "I used to like bananas, but now I do not."

    Which phrase tells you that the writer no longer likes bananas?

    The phrase "used to" tells me that the writer no longer likes bananas.

    Even though "used to" is past tense, it currently exists as a word no matter when you read it. The same idea applies to your sample sentence. Whatever word tells you that Zigor was seeking refuge at Daniel's house is still the same word, and exists in the present. So you would use the present tense to describe the word, even if the word itself is past or future tense.

    My explanation was long-winded and repetitive, but I hope I answered your question. Please let me know if you are still confused.

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    #5

    Re: Question in the past tense

    Thanks, Thedeebo.

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