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Sentence Correction: Tenses - Past Simple and Progressive

When a man appeared in the village of Artigat in the summer of 1556 and presented himself as Martin Guerre, only a few locals suspected whether he assumed the identity of the man who had disappeared eight years earlier.

Incorrect.

This answer choice is grammatically incorrect and illogical.

In the sentence, a past action (he assumed) takes place before another past action (a few locals suspected). Therefore, the Past Perfect tense should have been used. This answer choice, however, uses the Past Simple (assumed).

In addition, the word whether is incorrectly used because this answer choice only indicates that the locals suspected one thing only.

Think of whether as a choice between two possibilities dealing with the same subject or as a yes/no question.

Example: I do not know whether this will work. (yes or no)

He was not sure whether he wanted banana or chocolate cake. (a choice between 2 possibilities)

Incorrect.

While this answer choice corrects the Tense mistake in the original sentence, by changing the Past Simple verb assumed to the Past Perfect verb had assumed, it is illogical.

The word whether is incorrectly used because this answer choice only indicates that the locals suspected one thing only.

Think of whether as a choice between two possibilities dealing with the same subject or as a yes/no question.

Example: I do not know whether this will work. (yes or no)

He was not sure whether he wanted banana or chocolate cake. (a choice between 2 possibilities)

Incorrect.

While this answer choice corrects the logical flaw in the original question, by eliminating the word whether, it repeats the Tense mistake in the original question.

In the sentence, a past action (he assumed) takes place before another past action (a few locals suspected). Therefore, the Past Perfect tense should have been used. This answer choice, however, uses the Past Simple (assumed).

Incorrect.

While this answer choice corrects the logical flaw in the original question, by eliminating whether, and corrects the Tense mistake by changing Past Simple he assumed to a non-conjugated form his assuming, it is stylistically flawed.

The phrase his assuming is awkward. In addition, it is unclear to whom the pronoun his refers - to the man who arrived in Artigat or to Martin Guerre.

Well done!

This answer choice corrects the grammatical mistake and the logical flaw in the original question, by changing whether to that and by changing the Past Simple (assumed) to the Past Perfect tense (had assumed), to indicate that one action (he had assumed the identity...) came before another (the locals suspected).

whether he assumed
he assumed
his assuming
whether he had assumed
that he had assumed