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    • Join Date: Feb 2010
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    #1

    "is" or "was"?

    Hello everyone!

    I have a problem with sentence which I could probably use during English speaking exam. Could you please help me and tell which option in second sentence is correct?

    Let's assume I don't understand something and I want to ask an interlocutor a question:

    1) "Excuse me, may I ask a question because I'm not sure if I understand what the task is about?" (I think this is ok,but a sentence below...)

    2) "Excuse me, may I ask a question because I'm not sure if I understood what the task is/was about?"

    Could somebody tell me if the second one is ok with "is" or "was"?
    May I mix past and present form in a sentence ("understood" and "is"?)

    Thank you in advance
    cheers
    Last edited by komp_user333; 24-Jul-2010 at 18:28. Reason: misspell

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "is" or "was"?

    Quote Originally Posted by komp_user333 View Post
    Hello everyone!

    I have a problem with sentence which I could probably use during English speaking exam. Could you please help me and tell which option in second sentence is correct?

    Let's assume I don't know understand something and I want to ask an interlocutor a question:

    1) "Excuse me, may I ask a question because I'm not sure if I understand what the task is about?" (I think this is ok,but a sentence below...)

    2) "Excuse me, may I ask a question because I'm not sure if I understood what the task is/was about?"

    Could somebody tell me if the second one is ok with "is" or "was"?
    May I mix past and present form in a sentence ("understood" and "is"?)

    Thank you in advance
    cheers
    No 1 is fine.

    No 2 - if you said "I'm not sure if I understood what the task is [about]" I would take it to mean that you have been given instructions but you're not sure you understood the instructions, and that the task has not yet been completed.

    If you said "I'm not sure if I understood what the task was [about]" I would take it to mean that you're not sure you understood the instructions relating to a task that you have already completed.


    • Join Date: Feb 2010
    • Posts: 7
    #3

    Re: "is" or "was"?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    No 1 is fine.

    No 2 - if you said "I'm not sure if I understood what the task is [about]" I would take it to mean that you have been given instructions but you're not sure you understood the instructions, and that the task has not yet been completed.

    If you said "I'm not sure if I understood what the task was [about]" I would take it to mean that you're not sure you understood the instructions relating to a task that you have already completed.
    So I conclude that on the exam, after I'm given instructions and before I start doing anything I can use 1) sentence or "Excuse me, may I ask a question because I'm not sure if I understood what the task is about?"

    emsr2d2 thank you for your help. That's the answer I've been looking for.

    Best wishes
    Last edited by komp_user333; 24-Jul-2010 at 18:41. Reason: smile added

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "is" or "was"?

    Quote Originally Posted by komp_user333 View Post
    So I conclude that on the exam, after I'm given instructions and before I start doing anything I can use 1) sentence or "Excuse me, may I ask a question because I'm not sure if I understood what the task is about?"

    emsr2d2 thank you for your help. That's the answer I've been looking for.

    Best wishes
    You're welcome, but I would add (as I noted in my first reply) that the word "about" isn't required. A task isn't "about something" - it is simply a task.

    "Excuse me, may I ask a question, because I'm not sure if I understood what the task is?"

    "Excuse me, I'm not sure I understood the task correctly. May I ask a question?"


    • Join Date: Feb 2010
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    #5

    Re: "is" or "was"?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    You're welcome, but I would add (as I noted in my first reply) that the word "about" isn't required. A task isn't "about something" - it is simply a task.

    "Excuse me, may I ask a question, because I'm not sure if I understood what the task is?"

    "Excuse me, I'm not sure I understood the task correctly. May I ask a question?"
    Wow many thanks. To be honest I wasn't aware of this "task thing". I'll remember not to use "task is/was about".

    Cheers
    Last edited by komp_user333; 25-Jul-2010 at 13:14.

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