Please read the following question:
What made the professor puzzled was ____________ fewer and fewer students came to his lecture.
A. why B.how C.that D.whether
The reference answer is A. I think A is right, but C is right too.
Maybe A is more logical, the professor was puzzled about the reason. but I think we can say a person is puzzled about a fact(phenomenon).
So, is C absolutely right or just barely acceptable?
I am looking forward to your help. Thanks a million.
I put in "that" before I read the choices. I think "why" is perfectly possible, many people would say that, but it may be a little loose grammatically, and it was the phenomenon that made him puzzled, not the question. "That" is the best answer, the way I see it.
Only choice A is possible.
The professor was puzzled because he didn't know the reason for the fact that fewer and fewer students came to his lectures. In other words, he knew the fact (they stopped attending) but he didn't know why they had stopped.
A. What made him puzzled was why fewer and fewer students came.
The reason for the fact that fewer and fewer students came made him puzzled.
C. What made him puzzled was that fewer and fewer students came.The fact (students stopped attending his lectures) did not puzzle the professor, as he already knew they weren't attending. What puzzled the professor was the reason for that fact, why they stopped attending (choice A).
The fact that fewer and fewer students came made him puzzled.
Choice C (that) is possible if elliptical for the reason for the fact that, but not the best answer since it is also elliptical for the reason that. Ambiguity is the reason choice C is not the best answer.
Only choice A is possible:
What made the professor puzzled was _______ fewer and fewer students came to his lecture.
C. that ambiguous
I agree with bhaisahab, and I would also accept 'how', which sounds more American to my ears. But there is no good reason not to accept 'that'. 'why' here is a pronoun over 'the reason why' I couldn't accept 'whether'.
Absence from the corpora does not prove it cannot be used, but it does suggest very strongly that learners should not use it. If it is possible, it is rare.
I changed my mind there: The prof is short-sighted and half deaf, he can't hear the students chatter, and the rear part of the lecture room is an unseen mystery to him from behind his thick bifocals.
What made him puzzled was whether fewer and fewer students came to his lectures. That works for me!