ACT English 1.2 Passage Drill
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ACT English: Passage Drill 1, Problem 2. What is the right tense for this verb?
|ACT English||Passage Drill|
|Grammar and Usage||Verb Tenses|
|Product Type||ACT English|
|Usage/Mechanics||Grammar and Usage|
Will be, or not will be? That is the question, sort of.
What we are tying to do is figure out the right tense for this sentence's "to be" verb.
Choice (A) is wrong, because it uses the future tense, which is too definite for the meaning
this sentence is trying to relate.
It's not accurate to say that plant classification is above the head of every single "average"
person in the world.
Surely, there are some everyday people out there whose thumbs are green enough to comprehend such things.
(B) gives us the present progressive tense with the word "being."
Present progressive tense is used to describe action that is taking place now and will continue
to do so in the future.
This sentence isn't telling us that average people are, at this very moment, scratching
their heads as they try to identify plants.
The sentence is speaking more theoretically, so we'll cross out choice (B).
Choice (C) is getting warmer. "Should be" is in what's known as the "conditional tense."
To be more specific, it's in the future unreal conditional tense. Anybody else feel like
we just entered the Twilight Zone?
Future unreal conditional isn't as complicated or "out there" as it sounds. We use this tense
to describe things that might happen in the future, but aren't definite.
Check out this sentence for example: Somebody should tell Kanye to stop putting his foot in his mouth.
Here, we're not sure if somebody's going to give this advice to Kanye or not. Although
we're sure he wouldn't listen even if someone did.
So, "should" is still not quite the right word for this sentence.
There's nothing wrong with future unreal conditional here, but the connotation of the word "should" just doesn't fit.
It implies that average people are supposed to be confused by plant classifications.
Choice (D) gets it right with "can be," which is also in the future unreal conditional tense.
This time, though, connotations don't derail the whole thing.
The use of the word "can" implies that it's entirely possible that average people might
have a tough time classifying plants, but that it's not completely impossible they'd
do OK with it.
Score one for the common man.