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    #1

    Help wanted from native speakers

    Question 1:

    Is the following "did" correct in the following passage? If so, what does the whole sentence "This group said that spinach had ten times more iron than it did" mean?


    People only thought spinach had a lot of iron because the people who studied the food made a mistake. In the 1890s, a group of people studied what was inside vegetables. This group said that spinach had ten times more iron than it did. The group wrote the number wrong, and everyone accepted it.



    Question 2:

    Is "since when" correct in the following sentence, which I came across in a test? Is "since which time" a better expression?


    The book was written in 1946, since when the education system has witnessed great changes?
    Last edited by John Ting; 08-Feb-2009 at 03:58.

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    #2

    Re: Help wanted from native speakers

    "Did" often replaces any verb, but it also emphasizes, intensifies, makes more real, any verb.

    Did you go there? I did.
    Yes, I went there

    I did go there.
    Truly, indeed I went there

    They thought spinach had ten times more iron than it did.
    They thought that spinach had ten times more iron than it actually does, in reality: if the true value is 35 ppm, they thought the figure was 350 ppm.

    (2) "Since when" is very loose. "Since which time" is better, but best of all is to revise the punctuation and wording:

    The book was written in 1946; since then, the education system has witnessed great changes.
    Last edited by abaka; 08-Feb-2009 at 04:05.

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    #3

    Re: Help wanted from native speakers

    They thought spinach had ten times more iron than it did.

    They thought that spinach had ten times more iron than it actually does, in reality: if the true value is 35 ppm, they thought the figure was 350 ppm.


    Thanks! Then the word "did" in the first sentence is wrong and should be replaced by "actually does". Right?


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    #4

    Re: Help wanted from native speakers

    'did is the past tense of 'does' and would refer to the iron content of spinach back in 1890 (compared to its content today). We assume that vegetables do not radically change their vitamin and mineral content over time, hence the present tense 'does' should be used, since we are referring to a 'universal truth': the iron content of spinach is presumed to be the same a million years ago, as today, as in a million years.

    Omit "in reality".
    They thought that spinach had ten times more iron than it actually does.


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    #5

    Re: Help wanted from native speakers

    Quote Originally Posted by John Ting View Post
    Question 1:

    Is the following "did" correct in the following passage? "This group said that spinach had ten times more iron than it did"
    In comparisons, when the same verb is required before and after than, we can use an auxiliary like do or did for the second verb. This makes it possible to avoid repetition of the main verb.

    In the sentence you give, had is the main verb.. The writer could have repeated had:


    "This group said that spinach had ten times more iron than it had"

    Instead, he or she replaced it by did.

    (See: A.J.Thomson and A.V. Martinet, “A Practical English Grammar”, Fourth Edition, rubric 22 and 125)

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    #6

    Re: Help wanted from native speakers

    Quote Originally Posted by John Ting View Post
    They thought spinach had ten times more iron than it did.

    They thought that spinach had ten times more iron than it actually does, in reality: if the true value is 35 ppm, they thought the figure was 350 ppm.


    Thanks! Then the word "did" in the first sentence is wrong and should be replaced by "actually does". Right?
    Yes. I wasn't sure whether this was your paragraph or someone else's.

    What I wrote is a long-winded explanation rather than a correction.

    I would write the sentence exactly the way David L suggests: They thought that spinach had ten times more iron than it actually does.

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