A: Why, John, have you changed your home phone number?
B: No.But I ___ with my uncle's family this week.

a) stayed
b) was staying
c) am staying

Which one is correct and why?

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  • If B is meant to be a reply to the question at A, it doesn't make sense. But aside from that, you could use any of A, B or C. But only use C if you are still at your uncle's. If you have already left, one of the past tenses, i.e. A or B, is needed. You are, incidentally only allowed one question per post. – WS2 Sep 24 '16 at 7:00
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    @WS2 The answer makes sense to me. Person A has been ringing person B's home phone to speak to him and has had no response. He accepts that B might be away but then meets him in the street so wonders whether B has changed his phone number. The most likely option to be correct is c since B says 'this week' which has a good chance of not being over yet. – BoldBen Sep 24 '16 at 8:01
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    @WS2 I also agree that a and b are equivalent and either could be right. To make the exercise clearer B should say "I ________ with my uncle's family until next Monday". (If the question setter wanted c to be chosen). – BoldBen Sep 24 '16 at 8:14
  • @WS2 @ BoldBenThanks. Valuable and useful information. Then how about the second question. How to correct the sentence? – cuixiaomei Sep 24 '16 at 8:45
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about yet another bogus test question. – Hot Licks Sep 24 '16 at 11:47

All three of the suggested options are valid. I'm going to assume that the reason the asker knows about John's phone number is that it was shown with the call. Because he called from his uncle's house, his phone number was different from usual. The use of the verb stay indicates that the visit took at least a couple of days and at least one overnight stay was involved.

Q: Why, John, have you changed your home phone number?


  1. No.But I stayed with my uncle's family this week.

    The staying was a discrete event; it's now over.

  2. No.But I was staying with my uncle's family this week.

    The visit is over.

The use of the past progressive might indicate that this is a regular occurrence. However, (1) could be used for a regular stay, and (2) for a one-off visit.

  1. No.But I am staying with my uncle's family this week.

    The visit to his uncle is still in progress, and the meeting with his friend has happened while John is staying at his uncle's. There is no situational information to show how feasible this meeting is (everything may happen in the same town), so it remains a possibility and this option remains valid.

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  • Hmm. Having just read @BoldBen's comment, I suppose the call may have been to John, who could not be reached. However, this doesn't actually change the scenarios in the answer. – Andrew Leach Sep 24 '16 at 9:58
  • It may also be the case that the use of this week is supposed to imply currency, so (3) is correct. But it could easily mean "earlier this week", so that doesn't change the answer either. – Andrew Leach Sep 24 '16 at 10:00
  • That's three different interpretations of this conversation so far, all perfctly reasonable! If this started out as an English language exercise it's about as useful as a chocolate teapot. – BoldBen Sep 25 '16 at 10:36
  • @BoldBen Indeed. Answering this type of question may be anathema to some, but occasionally it might be useful to demonstrate just how poor the test question is. – Andrew Leach Sep 25 '16 at 10:40

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