2010年6月8日 星期二

SC_PP2-Q28



文章日期:2010-06-08 14:31


In 1997, despite an economy that marked its sixth full year of uninterrupted expansion with the lowest jobless rate in a quarter century, the number of United State Citizens declaring themselves bankrupt has jumped by almost 20 percent, at 1.34 million.



A. declaring themselves bankrupt has jumped by almost 20 percent, at


B. declaring themselves bankrupt jumped by almost 20 percent, to


C. who declared themselves bankrupt has jumped by almost 20 percent, to


D. who declared themselves bankrupt jumped almost by 20 percent, at


E. to declare themselves bankrupt jumped almost by 20 percent, to


Looking at the split at the end of the problem, we can narrow the problem to choices B and C (because it doesn't make sense to say that the number of bankrupt citizens jumped 'at' some figure).


The distinction between 'declaring themselves' and 'who declared themselves' is a red herring: both of them are acceptable (although the former is probably a little better, in the sense that it's less wordy).


So it comes down to verb tense: 'has jumped' versus 'jumped'. Take a look at the content of this sentence, though: We're looking IN RETROSPECT at a statistic from the full year 1997, summarizing what happened in that whole year. (We can rest assured that we're not sitting in December 1997, looking back at the year that's just passed us by, because of the talk about 'the sixth full year of uninterrupted expansion.) This means that we have to use the simple past tense ('has jumped' is inappropriate).


So B wins.

Can someone tell me what makes (E) inappropriate ? Is there a gramartical principle behind

i) using verb(+ ing) vs to verb. Example declaring vs to declare

ii) the usage of "almost by x percent" vs "by almost x percent".


Thanks.


(i) both of those constructions have their place in the english language.

the infinitive construction, though, is usually used in one of the following situations:

a) the action is to take place in the future: my block has five houses to be sold in foreclosure

b) you're talking about some sort of historical accounting: pete rose became the second baseball player in history to amass 4000 career hits

in this case, the '-ing' construction just sounds better to my 'native speaker's ear'. i'm not sure whether you're a native speaker (if you're not, your english is quite good), but it certainly helps for these sorts of borderline cases.


(ii) 'by almost x percent' is the correct form, because the quantity did jump - by an amount that was almost x percent (and you therefore shouldn't break those words up).


Anon wrote:


Hi Ron,


Could you please elaborate on the usage of the present participle "declaring".

I thought the sentence is talking about a past event - In 1997 .


and suppose choice D at the end has a TO instead of the AT.. which one would be a better choice between B and D then.


Thanks,

Anon



the present participle is fine. it can be used with all tenses of main verbs, to describe actions contemporaneous with the time frame described in the main clause.

the only requirement is that there be at least one tensed verb (i.e., definitively in the past, present, future, etc. tense).


for instance:

shakespeare used his own innovative sonnet form, though most poets writing at the same time used the petrarchan sonnet form.

in this sentence, there are 2 verbs in the simple past tense (both instances of 'used'), so the sentence is anchored in the simple past tense. it's ok to use the present participle 'writing', which signifies only that the writing occurs at the same time as the tensed verbs in the sentence (in this case, in the past). this present participle does NOT signify that the action takes place in the present!

(notice that 'present participle' is somewhat of a misnomer. when you learn the function of different grammatical structures, try not to concentrate on their names, but, rather, on their functions.)


if you want an example of a present participle that doesn't work because it's not anchored by any tensed verb, check out #75 in the yellow o.g. (please don't post details of that problem here.) the choices involving the present participle in that problem are incorrect, inter alia, because there aren't any other past-tense verbs to anchor the sentence.

Nope - #75 in the yellow OG is not incorrect. :)


That question is comparing different civilizations - those anchor the phrase "flourished at the same time as" which indicates what we're actually trying to compare about the two different civilizations. You couldn't just say "(one civilization) at the same time as (some other civilization)" - you actually have to specify what happened at the same time as something else. Think of it as: A flourished at the same time as B. A and B are what you are comparing.


By the same token, in your sentence, the two different things you're comparing are you and Larry. The comparison itself is based on who drove better: A drove better than B.


I know people will also write things like: A drove better than B drove, or A drove better than B did. But you don't need to. :)

Hi Lawrence,


I think your confusion comes from thinking of writing as a verb, which it is not in this sentence. In order for an -ing word to be a tensed verb, it needs an auxiliary or helping verb of being. In such cases, the auxiliary verbs determine the tense:


He was writing when the phone rang. (past progressive)

They are writing the report together. (present progressive)

Larry has been writing for 20 years. (present perfect progressive)


When the -ing word has no helping verb, it is typically part of a modifying phrase. When the -ing word follows a noun directly, it modifies that noun. In your example, poets writing at the same time, poets is the noun and writing at... tells us which poets the author is talking about. In other words,


poets writing at the same time = poets who were writing at the same time.


It is not a problem that the -ing form indicates concurrence, because the the poets did write at the same time as the action in the main clause (Shakespeare used his ... sonnet form).


cesar.rodriguez.blanco wrote:


One question,

is jump AT always wrong, or it depends on the contexts?

What is the difference between JUMP AT and JUMP TO? Is there a correct idiom?

Thanks.



you can't say "jump at QUANTITY". here, "to" is correct.


on the other hand, if the word "at" is part of some other construction, such as a time marker, then it could appear:

consumer spending always jumps at the end of the year, when the holiday season arrives.

here, "jump at" isn't really a construction; it's just "jump", followed by "at the end of the year".