0

I came across the following multi-choice question in a bank of past exam questions of ENG1001 (taught as a compulsory subject in my university):

Randy is a very good swimmer, so he .......... swim better than I do.

A. can B. would C. may D. is going to

No answer key is given and almost all friends of mine prefer Option A. This raises two questions in my mind.

  1. Is Randy's ability to swim better than I do the consequence of his being a very good swimmer? Rather, they are, I think, two facts simply coextensive with each other, and as such should be joined by 'and' instead of 'so'.

  2. Is the sequence "can swim better than I can" more appropriate than "can swim better than I do"?

Is there anything wrong with my reasoning?

Thank you.

  • Are you missing some text before "every members"? – Lawrence Jun 7 '18 at 10:08
  • @Lawrence I've tried to edit it but the attempt is rejected. Hello, every member is the greeting I intended to write down. – Iyrye Jun 7 '18 at 10:19
  • Hello and welcome to EL&U. The lock-out might be a matter of timing - wait a bit and try again. Stack Exchange discourages the use of greetings in questions, by the way - they prefer that questions simply present the background and research done, together with a clear statement of an on-topic question that can be conclusively answered. – Lawrence Jun 7 '18 at 10:24
  • Tests sometimes incompletely encode the test-writer's frame of mind - answers other than the one intended might work, and sometimes leave out important context either because it is implied by the work done in class just before the test, or because the writer made unwarranted assumptions. // Questions related to learning the language are often referred to English Language Learners, but I see that your question has to do with slightly broader issues. – Lawrence Jun 7 '18 at 10:32
  • @Lawrence I really appreciate your warm welcome. Could you please give me some opinion about the question? It's not clear enough to deal with. If so, please let me know and I'll try to rephrase it. – Iyrye Jun 7 '18 at 10:36
0

The first part of your question is:

Is Randy's ability to swim better than I do the consequence of his being a very good swimmer? Rather, they are, I think, two facts simply coextensive with each other, and as such should be joined by 'and' instead of 'so'.

Here's the relevant dictionary definition:

so conjunction 1 And for this reason; therefore. ‘it was still painful so I went to see a specialist’ - ODO

Although you have a point that just because "he is a very good swimmer", it doesn't necessarily follow that he'd swim better than someone else. However, if the context allows an assumption that the speaker isn't a very good swimmer, the fact that "he" is (a very good swimmer) is enough to admit the (possibility of) the entailment. The use of the intensifier "very" is consistent with that assumption.

In this case, the intent seems to be to treat his ability as a justification for the conclusion. In turn, that justifies the use of so. Using and in place of so leaves the sentence rather bland - two facts are juxtaposed to no real effect.

You also ask:

Is the sequence "can swim better than I can" more appropriate than "can swim better than I do"?

Can ... can highlights the parallel. However, in this context, "better than I do" has the sense of "better than I can swim" (do -> can swim). As such, do does work in this sentence.

  • Thank you very much. You've cleared my mind of doubts with your sunccint, easy explanation. – Iyrye Jun 7 '18 at 11:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.