Thank you all for your kind help with the last set of questions. I still found some areas in English grammar/syntax I'm not familiar with:
1) "A black cloth hung over the bird cage, where it had been placedmany evenings ago." My test-prep book corrects it to "Many evenings ago, a black cloth had been placed over the bird cage." However, this new sentence shifts the tense from simple past to past perfect and thus alters the meaning. How would you convey the same idea while maintaining the simple past tense?
2) "In the coming elections, we citizens are asked to vote on the saleof state bonds." My book says the conditional tense "are being asked" should be used instead. What is the "conditional tense"?
3) "I know that my sister has and will always be my champion." Thebook claims the sentence is correct, but shouldn't it be "...has been and will always be..." instead?
4) "Number of workers" is correct while "amount of workers" isn't,correct?
5) Which is preferred: "had proved" or "had proven"?
6) "Johnson's main point in the article in the newspaper was hisbelief that the corrupt politicians would never be prosecuted for their misdeeds." The book claims, "The possessive pronoun 'his' cannot refer to the possessive proper noun Johnson's." Is the book correct?
Thank you.
(Email Removed) (AnandVishy) burbled
Thank you all for your kind help with the last set of questions. I still found some areas in English ... bird cage." However, this new sentence shifts the tense from simple past to past perfect and thus alters the meaning.

This is a terrible revision by the book. If this is a description from a story, for example, the author is focusing the reader's attention on the black cloth hanging over the birdcage, not when it was hung over the bird cage.
It doesn't change the meaning of the sentence. We learn no more or less that a black cloth was hanging over the bird cage and that it had been placed there "many evenings ago" (a strange locution here, I think). It changes the style, the tone, the feeling, the focus. It ruins whatever power that sentence had (very little, I'll admit, but still more than the "corrected" version).
It also takes the first sentence out of the active voice and puts it into the passive voice for no good reason. Assuming the author wants the black cloth mentioned first, it should read: "A black cloth hung over the bird cage, where it had been placed many evenings before".

If this is someone's verbatim speech, then it might informally be "A black cloth hung over the bird cage, where it was placed many evenings ago".
How would you convey the same idea while maintaining the simple past tense?

The first sentence is two clauses, one simple past and one past perfect. By shifting the focus of the sentence from the black cloth to when when the cloth had been placed over the bird cage, the book has reduced the number of clauses to one. Why the book didn't change it to "Many evenings ago, a black cloth was placed over the bird cage" is as much a mystery to me as what the book did change it to.

Pay no attention to the book in this case. The writer(s) were asleep while doing that exercise.
2) "In the coming elections, we citizens are asked to vote on the sale of state bonds." My book says the conditional tense "are being asked" should be used instead. What is the "conditional tense"?

There is no "conditional tense". The tense is present and the aspect is continuous/progressive.The only condition implied in that sentence, as far as I can see, are the two conditions that the citizens will be alive and able to vote in the coming elections and the condition that the coming elections are indeed held as scheduled.
The author(s) of this book know nought of what they speak.
3) "I know that my sister has and will always be my champion." The book claims the sentence is correct, but shouldn't it be "...has been and will always be..." instead?

"my sister" has kidnapped the speaker's champion and is feasting on his or her flesh. Soon the sister will become that champion.

Yes, you are correct. The book is wrong again. It should be "is" or "has been"
4) "Number of workers" is correct while "amount of workers" isn't, correct?

Yes. Workers are individuals and can be expressed numerically. Work, OTOH, is expressed in amounts.
5) Which is preferred: "had proved" or "had proven"?

Which do you like better? Which does your style manual like better? Garner says "proved" is preferred and that "proven" is only an adjective. Fowler2 agrees. Follett says that in American English, "proved" and "proven" are interchangeable, but that "proven" is the adjective.
6) "Johnson's main point in the article in the newspaper was his belief that the corrupt politicians would never be prosecuted for their misdeeds." The book claims, "The possessive pronoun 'his' cannot refer to the possessive proper noun Johnson's." Is the book correct?

Another poorly written sentence: "Johnson's main point in the newspaper article was" is far better.
I suppose that to be absolutely pedantic about this point, it would have to be "was {that he believed / an expression of his belief} that the corrupt". It is more than likely standard and acceptable in most places, though.
Can you tell us more about this book? Like the author(s), the publisher, the date of publication, the purpose of the book?

After these questions, I am ready to say that you should put it in the nearest round file with a healthy dose of lighter fluid and a match or ten.
Thank you all for your kind help with the last ... simple past to past perfect and thus alters the meaning.

This is a terrible revision by the book. If this is a description from a story, for example, the author ... over the bird cage and that it had been placed there "many evenings ago" (a strange locution here, I think).

I think it does change the meaning or at least introduces potential ambiguity.
"A black cloth hung...where it had been placed" says that the cloth was still hanging there at the time of the described event/action.

"Many evenings ago, a black cloth had been placed..." doesn't necessarily imply that: it might have been removed by the time the action is taking place.
You're dead right that it's a terrible revision, though.

Cheers, Harvey
Ottawa/Toronto/Edmonton for 30 years;
Southern England for the past 21 years.
(for e-mail, change harvey to whhvs)
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Thank you all for your kind help with the last set of questions. I still found some areas in English ... past perfect and thus alters the meaning. How would you convey the same idea while maintaining the simple past tense?

There is nothing wrong with the original sentence. It is standard idiomatic English and has no need of correctiong. You lose information if you switch to the "correct" sentence, because you no longer can be sure that the cloth is still hanging over the bird cage indeed, the use of the past perfect in the second sentence suggests that it was removed at some time after its placement. If there is an answer to your question, I believe it would be "Many evenings ago a black cloth had been placed over the bird cage, where it hung." This is no better than the first sentence in your question, and I think it's worse.
2) "In the coming elections, we citizens are asked to vote on the sale of state bonds." My book says the conditional tense "are being asked" should be used instead. What is the "conditional tense"?[/nq]There is no such thing as a "conditional tense" in English. There are moods and aspects, but no such thing as a conditional tense. "Are being asked" is in the progressive or continuous aspect (which is sometimes called a tense; maybe the book confused "conditional" and "continuous", or perhaps you did.) As for the original sentence, it again is fully standard and idiomatic and does not require the addition of "being." I think the point the book is trying to make is that you use the progressive (or continuous) for situations in which there is a continuing event, like an election.

The asking is going on continuously, so you need the continuous "are being asked." However, a simple present passive can carry the same information, and I think most native speakers would see no difference in meaning between the sentence without "being" and the sentence with it.
You can jumble this up even more if you reflect that the election itself is pretty much a single point in time. It's the election "campaign" that takes time. I don't think the author of the book has thought this through.
3) "I know that my sister has and will always be my champion." The book claims the sentence is correct, but shouldn't it be "...has been and will always be..." instead?

You are right. However, contemporary English speaking and writing teems with examples of the sort of mismatch exemplified by this sentence, so this may be one of the rare occasions where the author of your book decided to use a usage that is still developing. But the usage still is not widely accepted, so it's more likely that the author simply got it wrong. Good English definitely requires "has been and will always (I'd say "always will") be."
4) "Number of workers" is correct while "amount of workers" isn't, correct?

Pretty much. This is an issue of idiom, and I'll bet someone could come up with a sentence in which "amount of workers" looked right. Still, if you never wrote "amount of workers" you'd get along fine.
5) Which is preferred: "had proved" or "had proven"?

"Proven" is preferred as the pre-positional adjective: "a proven thief." Otherwise it doesn't much matter. Try

6) "Johnson's main point in the article in the newspaper was his belief that the corrupt politicians would never be prosecuted for their misdeeds." The book claims, "The possessive pronoun 'his' cannot refer to the possessive proper noun Johnson's." Is the book correct?

This to me is ar best lingering superstition that no one pays any attention to. I see nothing wrong with the sentence as written and no justification for the "rule" your book seeks to apply. Perhaps the author was thinking of danglers preceding a possessive: "Tall and blue-eyed, his car impressed everyone." Here "tall and blue-eyed" is supposed to modify the "he" that isn't there and winds up descibing the car instead. Anyone want a tall, blue-eyed car? This must be corrected to "Tall and blue-eyed, he owned a car that impressed everyone." or "He was tall and blue-eyed, and his car impressed everyone."

Bob Lieblich
Interesting questions. Good luck
A correction of a mistatement of fact in my response to #2.

CyberCypher (Email Removed) burbled

I like totally spaced out when I wrote this last sentence. I kept thinking that it should have be written as "we are being asked" and that was what I was thinking when I said this, which is obviously wrong.
The tense is present and the aspect is simple and the voice is passive. I was unable to sleep (I went to bed about 45 minutes ago) because I kept thinking about my mistake.
Harvey Van Sickle (Email Removed) burbled
I think it does change the meaning or at least introduces potential ambiguity.

Yes, you're right about the potential ambiguity. The cloth might still have been hanging there or it might have been removed by the time the description was delivered. Without a context, though, or a picture, we'll never know.
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A clarification is now necessary.
CyberCypher (Email Removed) burbled
There is no "conditional tense". The tense is present and the aspect is continuous/progressive.

I like totally spaced out when I wrote this last sentence. I kept thinking that it should have be written ... I was unable to sleep (I went to bed about 45 minutes ago) because I kept thinking about my mistake.

But the alleged "conditional tense" "are being asked" is present perfect continuous as well as passive, so I was half right. Sleepiness is a powerful deterrent to thinking clearly.
Thank you all for your kind help with the last set of questions. I still found some areas in English ... past perfect and thus alters the meaning. How would you convey the same idea while maintaining the simple past tense?

I think I am going to change the sentence as follows: hung over the bird cage, A black cloth was placed many evenings ago.

Explanation: the " hung over.." is a participial phrase and many evening ago is "definite" time, you cann't use past perfect tense. If you still have a question, go to this website, www.englishpage.com, to learn more about the usage of tenses.
2) "In the coming elections, we citizens are asked to vote on the sale of state bonds." My book says the conditional tense "are being asked" should be used instead. What is the "conditional tense"?

I really don't know what conditional tense is. However, the one thing I know about present tenses for the future event is used for what someone has arranged to do in the furture. For example, I'm meeting Jon at 7:00 p.m..
3) "I know that my sister has and will always be my champion." The book claims the sentence is correct, but shouldn't it be "...has been and will always be..." instead?

for me, I would like to rearrange the sentence like this: I know that my sister will be my champion forever. Forever means foreverlasting time; eternally.
4) "Number of workers" is correct while "amount of workers" isn't, correct?

Number is used for a countable noun. for example, a fish, a worker and the like.
Amount is used for an uncountable noun. For example, information, money and the like.
5) Which is preferred: "had proved" or "had proven"?

From the www.dictionary.com, both are correct.
(snip
Can you tell us more about this book? Like the author(s), the publisher, the date of publication, the purpose of ... should put it in the nearest round file with a healthy dose of lighter fluid and a match or ten.

Thanks everyone once again for your kind help.
The book I use is "SAT II SUCCESS: Writing" written by Margaret Moran and W. Frances Holder and published by the Thomson publishing company. I just finished using the book, and I'm currently looking for a better source for my study - perhaps a book by Princeton Review.
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