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Question #2

Posted by R. Berg on April 27, 2003

In Reply to: Questions from TOEFL posted by gordonw on April 27, 2003

: : : : : Hi!

: : : : : I have some questions which are hard for me to understand.

: : : : : 1. During 19th and 20th centuries, human incursions into the habitat of the wolves _______ a devastating effect on their population.

: : : : : The answer is [has had]instead of [have had]. I wonder why.

: : : : : 2. The plot of The load of the Rings is centered upon the need to destroy the ring of corrupting force and immense power by traveling to the far land of Mordor.

: : : : : The problem part in this sentence is [the need to destroy the ring]. I wonder why this phrase is wrong.

: : : : : 3. Despite its ferocious image in the popular imagination, a gorilla is essentially a peaceful creature, given to fighting only in life-threatening situation.

: : : : : The book says that [a gorilla] is wrong. I feel this phrase is right. Is this wrong?

: : : : : 7. A personal trainer will require a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise along with a sensible diet in order that the trainee ________ complete health.

: : : : : [obtain] instead of [obtains] is a right answer. Maybe this is the subjunctive moode?

: : : : : Thank you very much for your help.

: : : : : Tom

: : : : 1. The answer is wrong. In the 20th century, "have had" was correct. Now "had" is correct.

: : : : 2. I don't see anything wrong with the sentence.

: : : : 3. What they want is "the gorilla," which is subtly different in meaning from "a gorilla." I wouldn't say that "a gorilla" is completely wrong.

: : : : 7. Yes, this is the subjunctive.

: : : I had a question about No. 1 but figured it out while I was typing. 19th and 20th century are past. (It takes a while to adjust.)

: : I'd be interested in hearing why the question-setter thinks that the phrase "the need to destroy the ring..." in sentence #2 is incorrect, because I also can see nothing grammatically or semantically wrong with it.

: : Regarding sentence #7, as has been stated, "obtain" is the present subjunctive and is strictly correct, but it's almost never used in contemporary English. "In order that", though not incorrect, seems again archaic and outmoded, with a more natural modern construction perhaps being "...for the trainee to obtain complete health".

: > Re sentence #2: I wonder whether the writer feared confusion between the transitive verb 'destroy' and the 'of' which follows soon after, in the way that a different tr.verb (such as 'cleanse') would totally change the meaning of the sentence. Very tenuous of course, and unlikely. Surely no reader would misunderstand this sentence?

Agreed--readers wouldn't take "destroy" to mean "cleanse" or "rid." I think the sentences come from a standardized test whose constructor isn't going to turn up and explain them.