# "What are Tom's chances of..." or "What are the chances of Tom..."?

This is from a CPE exam. In this exercise you have to fill the gap in the second sentence so that it is similar in meaning to the lead-in sentence. The key word must be used.

How likely is it that Tom will get a place in the team?

key word: chances

What .......................... getting a place in the team?

Answer A: are Tom’s chances of (this is the correct answer according to the book)

Answer B: are the chances of Tom

Now the book gives answer A as the only possible correct answer. My question is why would it be wrong to choose answer B.

• Which only goes to prove that some authors of grammar books do not have a complete command of English.
– WS2
Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 20:47
• Absolutely true, and something to watch for. But not in this case. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 20:53
• The examiners either don't realise that the ACC-ing construction is grammatically acceptable, or that 'what are the chances of' is idiomatic.. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:11
• While there is a semantic difference in some contexts, in the above there is no difference. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:36

Either is acceptable English. Writers of tests never have to explain why their answer is correct, so I don't know why they've decided A is right and B is wrong.

To answer Adam Liss' point, you can also ask "What are the chances of something happening to Tom?" In this case, being picked for the team.

"What are the chances of Abbott changing his views on climate change between now and Paris?"

• I've updated my answer; I hope it's clearer now. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:18
• Hello, Rupert. While I agree with this answer and disagree with Adam Liss's, a good answer on ELU should be accompanied by supporting evidence. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:18

The exam is correct:

What are Tom's chances of doing something?
What are the chances that Tom will do something?

What are your chances of winning the lottery?
What are the chances of winning the lottery?
What are the chances of you winning the lottery?
What are the chances you will win the lottery? What are the chances that you will win the lottery?

No native speaker would choose the phrase "the chances of you winning" over any of the others.

• Not so fast Afam Liss mirror.co.uk/news/politics/… Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 20:57
• English is not my native language so I guess there is something in there I don't fully understand. But this sentense has given me a really hard time! thank you for your comment though. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:00
• English is my native language. I've been speaking it for half a century, and I'm about as pedantic as they come. Please don't quote tabloids as if they were reliable, let alone authoritative. These days I see errors in online stories by outfits as reputable as the NY Times; now that they're all scrambling to beat the competition in both speed and breadth of coverage, expedience seems to have overtaken accuracy as the primary goal. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:13
• 'No native speaker would choose the phrase "the chances of you winning" over any of the others.' is very different from saying it's unacceptable. I'd not worry about using it (native speaker for over 60 years). Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:34
• 'No native speaker would choose the phrase "the chances of you winning" over any of the others.' is just wrong. I'm a native speaker, and I'd definitely use that form if I were discussing the difference in probability between you winning the lottery and anyone winning the lottery. Commented Aug 27, 2017 at 21:34