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Today I had my English finals, 12th grade high-school. I live in a third-world country, and so the quality of the questions/answers is not always guaranteed. One of the questions was:

Which of the following is formal speech?

A. [something which was obviously wrong]

B. [Another obviously wrong option]

C. It is said he has a map.

D. It is hoped that the Coronavirus would disappear soon.

I chose "C". However, just now our Ministry of Education has published the correct answer key on their social media account, and there, option "D" is said to be the correct one. Now, I think this option is wrong because "would" shouldn't be used here; it should be "will", which would make option "D" look exactly like this: "It is hoped that the corona virus will disappear soon"

Please help me. If option D is incorrect, then what I need to do is to get some evidence and backing that it is the case after all, and I plan on contacting both the Ministry as well as the Minister himself (these technical mistakes happen a lot, and in many cases they will just give everyone the 2 marks that the correct option is supposed to provide). What makes this all the more urgent is the fact that I have only a small window of time to make my complaints heard, and although I hate to be in this state, I literally beg the mods not to remove this question if it is inappropriate, because possibly the fate of at least 100,000 students in my nation is at stake.

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  • The conventions about using would in sentences like this probably vary regionally ... what is most likely to convince the authorities is to look in a reference guide like CGEL (the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) and see if they say anything about it. – Peter Shor Jul 28 '20 at 11:19
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    Passive It is said / hoped / thought / etc is equivalent to Present Tense active People say / hope / think. And so far as I'm concerned, it's I hope the virus will disappear, not would. – FumbleFingers Jul 28 '20 at 11:25
  • @PeterShor They really are not that sophisticated. Such a thing would not be required at all, merely the consensus of the teachers in the area. If the teachers say it's wrong, then the ministry would inevitably bow down to that consensus. But I have to ask, even to you, doesn't this sentence sound completely unnatural and even wrong? C is obviously the correct answer. – doubleOrt Jul 28 '20 at 11:28
  • @FumbleFingers Could you please turn it into an answer that is hopefully a bit longer? I know I am being rude but I am feeling extremely frustrated because it just feels so unjust and I am extremelly stressed right now. – doubleOrt Jul 28 '20 at 11:29
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    @YosefBaskin “great English”? That grates rather. Isn’t “good” good enough? – David Jul 28 '20 at 19:18
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The verb wish can take modally remote finite clauses as complements. The verb hope in contrast cannot. This verb must take what are sometimes referred to as indicative finite clauses.

  1. I wish that it will rain today. (Wrong, wish + indicative clause)
  2. I wish that it would rain today.
  3. I hope that it will rain today.
  4. I hope that it would rain today. (Wrong, hope + modally remote clause)

The verb would can be used in indictive clauses when it expresses volition or amenability on the part of the subject. But here the subject must be an animate being:

  1. I hope Ben would agree.

The verb would can also just be used to indicate futurity in the past without any modally remote meaning:

  1. I hoped it would would rain.

However, neither of these applies to the example given in the question:

D. *It is hoped that the corona virus would disappear soon. (Wrong)

Here the use of would makes this a modally remote clause. As hope cannot take modally remote clauses, this example is ungrammatical.

Much of the relvant information can be found in CGEL (pp. 1002-1004).

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    I mostly agree with your observation about the idiomacy of "modally remote clauses" (not terminology previously familiar to me) in the context of wish and hope. But I personally, I think your first example can be perfectly idiomatic in the right context. For example as a "performative act" utterance by a child who's just blown out the candles on her birthday cake, and is responding to Mummy's urging to "Make a wish!" But that's a contrived context. For the OP's purposes here it's probably reasonable to just say it's "not a natural usage". – FumbleFingers Jul 28 '20 at 12:13
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    @Araucaria-Nothereanymore: Yes - I think this is one of those not-uncommon cases where although by most lights it's "the same word", the performative usage actually licences different syntax. I like you example for highlighting a possible context where the ambiguity might make a difference! – FumbleFingers Jul 28 '20 at 13:04

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