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I am working on an English book to improve my English skills and the book only gives the answer without explanation. The instruction is "Choose the best reply between A and B."

The question is: Why do you work so hard?

Answer A: Because I am only happy when I am busy.

Answer B: Because I have to finish my report by the end of this week.

In my opinion both answers are correct in term of grammar, but answer B gives more clarity of the reason why I have to work hard.

Am I right? If no, why?

  • 3
    Because they are trying to indoctrinate you. – Kit Z. Fox Nov 18 '13 at 17:25
  • 2
    Trick question; there is no best of two, only better. – TimLymington Nov 18 '13 at 18:14
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    Honestly, they are both fine, and only a pedant would complain if you answered B when the "best" answer is A. However, if this is for school, then you should expect to be judged on how pedantically you analyze and select the best option. – Nick2253 Feb 17 '15 at 19:40
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The question is in the present simple. One of the functions of the present simple is to talk about habitual or repeated actions.

So a question such as Why do you work so hard? is asking Why do you habitually or always work so hard? It is equivalent to asking Why are you such a hard worker? Answer A is the natural answer to this question: Because I am only happy when I am busy.

Conversely, it does not make sense to answer a question about habits with a comment about a current project that has to be finished (Answer B).

Answer B works only if the question is in the present progressive: Why are you working so hard? This is because one function of the present progressive is to talk about current actions or states.

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The question was posed in sort of a present progressive sense. It is asking for the reason behind a perpetual action.

Answer B only gives an explanation in the simple present tense. It would be a good answer for "Why are you working so hard?", but for a question about why you continually do so, an answer that only addresses this one instance of the behavior is dodging the question.

Now the question is kind of personal, so in my opinion the asker probably has no right to demand the perpetual answer. However, B does indeed answer the question more properly.

  • I don't like the use of "this" week in answer B. It is more idiomatic to say "the" week. – Jim Nov 18 '13 at 20:39
  • @Jim On a Saturday I always use "this" – PatrickT Nov 21 '15 at 18:15
  • @PatrickT- Good point. But I think if I was still working hard on Saturday, I'd say, "Because I have to finish this project by tomorrow night." – Jim Nov 21 '15 at 18:19

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