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(I) Have you ever stopped to think how often people ask you where you live? (II) Both questions mean the same thing. (III) Some people say "Where do you live?" (IV) And some others say "Where is your home?"

A) I B) II C) III D) IV
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Grammar Geek
I'm a native. I vote for "It's a lousy question." Who knows what makes it odd? Does it seem out of order? Does it have an element that the other don't? Is it a question when the others are statements?

I completely understood which was the odd one out in the "by the river" question, but not this.

I see what you mean, but it is not actually the odd-one-out. Then, it would be more difficult. Let's call the question "finding off-the-topic sentence". Right? Can you try now?
Grammar GeekI'm a native. I vote for "It's a lousy question." Who knows what makes it odd? Does it seem out of order? Does it have an element that the other don't? Is it a question when the others are statements?

I completely understood which was the odd one out in the "by the river" question, but not this.

I completely agree. This is a dumb question and excuse my saying that. This is more of a brain tease than an English question in my opinion. If I must pick an answer, I would say it's II.
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Hi diamondrg

As far as I can understand from yo location, you are a native. The question is "which one is off-the-topic or digresses?" For me, the chance of B's being correct outweighs that of A's, but I am not sure. I expect a definitive answer from the natives.

I am indeed a native speaker - and clearly the natives are getting restless! My definitive answer is, as I stated, B. I say that because if "digresses" means "out of order," then it is surely so. However, I strongly agree with my colleague, Barb, who suggests that the question itself is unclear. Sometimes in a test, the tester may have a pre-conceived idea of a "correct" answer, but the testee may choose something different that may be "correct" in a different way.

[As a brief aside, you might want to try the following "game." Open a dictionary at random and close your eyes while selecting a word. Jot it down and repeat the process three times. Hand the list of four to a number of friends/colleagues/enemies and ask "Which is the odd-one-out, and why?" As an example, here's what I just generated using the Webster's I have in my office:

gala
outfit
secure
walking


The point is that you will get a number of interesting answers, all of which may well be perfectly valid provided they can explain why.]

The test question appears to be checking to see if a reader can appreciate that in a mult-sentence paragraph, the order in which the sentences appear can be critical. Sentence B must come after any reference to actual sentences because the words both questions imply that two questions have already been mentioned. Hence, B is positionally wrong (even though the sentence itself is grammatical).

Siggy
hi, Siggy. Thank you for your reply. As I said earlier, this is a real exam question which will affect my life just a bit. I agree with you and those who express their opinions on the low quality of the question. But if (II) is off-the-topic, does (III) and (IV) qualify for a natural continuation of (I)? In (1) it asks "how often", but in (III) and (IV) it does not answer this but mentions how people ask you where you are from. That is (I) frequency (III) and (IV) manner. Therefore, I think (III) and (IV) cannot follow (I). Then we have (II). Though it seems out of place, it does not seem off-the-topic with regard to (III) and (IV). What do you think?
Diamondrghi, Siggy. Thank you for your reply. As I said earlier, this is a real exam question which will affect my life just a bit. I agree with you and those who express their opinions on the low quality of the question. But if (II) is off-the-topic, does (III) and (IV) qualify for a natural continuation of (I)? In (1) it asks "how often", but in (III) and (IV) it does not answer this but mentions how people ask you where you are from. That is (I) frequency (III) and (IV) manner. Therefore, I think (III) and (IV) cannot follow (I). Then we have (II). Though it seems out of place, it does not seem off-the-topic with regard to (III) and (IV). What do you think?

The topic is something to do with "question(s) about where one lives." On that basis, I think you are right when you say that II does not appear to be off topic. The use of this phrase is what, I believe, adds to some of the confusion. For example, consider the following:

(I)When was the last time someone asked if you wanted a drink? (II) My dog runs chases his tail often. (III) Were you in a bar with a raging thirst? (IV) Or were you in a restaurant looking over a menu?

In this example, II is outrageously off topic - I doubt anyone would argue otherwise. But in your original example, II is on topic - especially if you compare it to the one I've just offered.

Contrary to what you say, I think that III and IV do follow quite naturally from I. In fact, if you tossed out II, you wouldn't know it was missing! Yes, the first sentence does ask how often - but it also mentions people, and notice that III and IV both refer back to the notion of people.

Sentence I has a few elements in it that could lead to other possible follow-on sentences, which you could choose from depending on which element you think is important. For example:

(a) Have you ever stopped to think how often people ask you where you live? Or are you so busy that you haven't much time to think about such things (focusing on stopped to think)

(b) Have you ever stopped to think how often people ask you where you live? It could be three or four times each day, or maybe only once a month (focusing on how often)

(c) Have you ever stopped to think how often people ask you where you live? Some people say "Where do you live" (focusing on people)

We may be being a little over-analytical here, but my point is that any sentence that follows another can be seen as "natural" is it refers back to particular elements of the original sentence - and there may be more than one element.

Siggy
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Thank you Siggy for this illuminating answer. I hope (II) is correct.Emotion: smile