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Never before have we had so little time in which____.
1:to do so much
2:we will do so much
3:it does so much
4:we do so much


Suppose you were-I think some of you actually are-a teacher. How do you explain to your students why the right answer is not #4 but #1?
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Comments  (Page 2) 
So, MrP, you don't think #4 is wrong?
"Time in which to do something" is a literal style of "time to do something". This "which" is not an interrogative (like "what" in "what to do", a nominal phrase) but a relative to make it clear that the following infinitive is used as an adjectival phrase. Why don't people say "time which to do something in"? I guess it is because grammarians old days thought a relative clause should not end with a preposition.

paco
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Hi Taka,
Where are other opinions when you need them?
I was talking about myself, not you. It's a colloquial way of saying 'It would be nice to get an opinion from someone else'. I wasn't completely sure if my explanation was appropriate, and I didn't want to mislead you.
As you know, some 'simple' grammar questions can trigger a lot of argument. However, in general I think a native speaker can identify what is correct. The hard part is often to explain 'why?' Moreover, when someone asks 'As a teacher, how would you explain that to your students', that makes it even more difficult to come up with a good answer. I teach using English as my language of instruction, and that limits the kind of explanation I can offer. It has to be as clear and simple as possible. For myself, I admire and learn from many of the explanations that are posted here, but I know they are often beyond my students.
Best wishes,
Clive
if it were a variant of 'time to do', it is impossible to explain why it would be unacceptable to say 'Never before have we had so little time which to do in .


The original question did not ask for an explanation of the unacceptability of the quoted structure. It's not even a choice among the four given.

CJ
Clive.
I understand.

CJ.
The original question did not ask for an explanation of the unacceptability of the quoted structure.

I know. But as a teacher, I have to explain to my students not only which is correct/wrong but also why. And the clealer and more persuasive the explanation is, the easier it is for my students to accept.
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OK. Let's back up and start over then.

[1]Never before have we had so little time in which to do so much.

[1] shows inversion triggered by preposing "never before", so it comes from [2].

[2] We have had so little time in which to do so much never before.

"never before" is adverbial, and extraneous to the piece we're interested in, namely "to do so much", so we can reduce our focus to [3].

[3] We have had so little time in which to do so much.

The tense is immaterial to the focus, so we can further reduce to [4].

[4] We have so little time in which to do so much.

It may be easier for the student to see this as a more exactly parallel structure, so it does no harm to add "work", since it (or something like it) is implied by the "much" standing on its own.

[5] We have so little time in which to do so much work.

So whatever is correct for [5] is correct for the original. Perhaps more important, whatever difficulty we teachers have in explaining the answer for the following ([6]) -- and whatever difficulty the students have in understanding our explanations -- is precisely the same difficulty we all have with the original.

[6] We have so little time in which____.
1:to do so much work
2:we will do so much work
3:it does so much work
4:we do so much work

Now here comes the disappointment. I think the explanation (if we can call it an explanation) reduces to a question of idiomaticity.

"so" is a term used in comparisons. With the words "so little" / "so much", we set up the idea of "not enough" / "too much". We have a certain amount of time (presumably not enough) and a certain amount of work (presumably too much). The idiomatic way to express such comparative relationships in English is shown below. Note the use of the infinitive in such constructions. Note that with "(not) enough", a "with which", "in which", or whatever, is optional. (Without the preposition the "which" must be deleted.)

We don't have enough money (with which) to buy that car.
We have too much work to do before sunset. (not "work which to do")
We have enough water here (with which) to sink a battleship.

If the students have not mastered, or at least substantially understood, these constructions, they probably will not understand any explanation of the target multiple choice answer.

We don't have enough time (in which) to do all that work.
We have very little time in which to do very much work.
We have so little time in which to do so much.

As I said, it is a matter of idiomaticity. There may not be anything particularly ungrammatical about "We have so little time in which we will do so much". It's just that it is completely unidiomatic as a way of expressing that sort of comparison.

I'd be interested to see if others see a deeper structural reason why the other choices are unacceptable.

CJ
Make it easy on yourself........choose #1, it is clear, correct and often used...
CJ.
Thank you, CJ. I appreciate your hard work. But quite honestly, I think my students whould have hard time understanding your analysis.
"with which", "in which", or whatever, is optional. (Without the preposition the "which" must be deleted.)


Grammatically, it is said, and well-known, that unless they are used as an object pronoun, such as in 'The man who(m)/that I saw' or 'The movie which/that I saw', relative pronouns are required; they are not optional; they cannot be deleted. All of the textbooks of my students put great emphasis on this rule.
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Anyway, it seems like your explanation focuses on why '1:to do so much work ' is correct, but not on why '2:we will do so much work' and '4:we do so much work ' are wrong. When you say:
There may not be anything particularly ungrammatical about "We have so little time in which we will do so much".


does it mean that #2 and #4 are actually acceptable?

Clieve seems to be uncomfortable with them. Right, Clive?
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So, MrP, you don't think #4 is wrong?

Hello Taka

I would say that #1 directly relates the size of the task to the time available; whereas #2 and #4 comment on the time available, then comment on what has to be done.

#4 as it stands seems strange to me, for the reasons Clive has given. If rephrased, however, it becomes possible:

4a. Never before have we had so little time – in which we are doing so much!

As for #2:

2a. Never before have we had so little time – in which we will do so much!

Both #2 and #4 have an elliptical air:

2b. Never before have we had so little time – and in that little time, we will do so much!
4b. Never before have we had so little time – and in that little time, we are doing so much!

MrP
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