Using the verbs say, come, and speak for the first, second, and third blanks, respectively. What tenses make sense here?

Mary: I wonder what he ___________ now.

Ann: Well, his girlfriend __________ from Japan too, so I suppose he _____________ Japanese.

According to the worksheet answer key, "is saying", "comes", and "speaks" are the answers, however, wouldn't it be more appropriate to have "is speaking" in the third blank? It doesn't make sense to me how someone (Ann in this case) could know that he (the guy saying something) is from Japan, but still "suppose" or guess that he speaks Japanese - seems redundant! Maybe I'm just overthinking it. Also present continuous seems to be more appropriate given Mary specifically focusing on what he is saying now.


  • It's a question which needs you to immagine the context, this makes it quite tricky. One can assume the conversation is between friends, one of who's ex-boyfriend may have expressed a particular thing in the past, and wonders if the sentiment still holds true now. "I wonder what he's saying now" can work. It's designed to make you think and question your initial assumptions, which is well beyond what just a simple language-test might usually do. Do a few more of these and you'll no-doubt get the hang of it. Jun 20 '20 at 5:48
  • I’ve got no problem with either “says” (my initial thought) or “is saying” And I can make “speaks” and “is speaking” work for the last.
    – Jim
    Jun 20 '20 at 6:34
  • It doesn't say that 'he' is from Japan, but that his girlfriend is, so Ann assumes they are able to communicate! Jun 20 '20 at 7:36
  • The question is infelicitous: the two sentences don't correspond well enough. Better would be 'Mary: There's Ako, talking to ... I think that's his girlfriend. I wonder what language he ___________ at this moment?/.' [use] Jun 20 '20 at 12:00
  • When I wrote the above comment I hadn't noticed the 'too'. If both are Japanese, I would indeed expect is speaking. Jun 20 '20 at 12:36

It doesn’t seem like a very good dialogue. I would guess they want “says”, “comes”, and “speaks”, but I agree with you that this is a bad example dialogue. I suppose - as pointed out by someone else - that it’s supposed to prompt you to imagine the context. Perhaps Ann is being humorous in saying that she supposes he is speaking Japanese because that’s an easier answer than wondering what, specifically, he is saying.

  • 1
    Oh I see! Yeah, it could be, definitely! There a lot of room to speculate as to what is going on! Thank you !
    – meepyer
    Jun 21 '20 at 16:27

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