Hi teachers.

I have this sentence. The old lady is talking to someone called Coke.

"You know, your clothes are in a terrible state," the old lady said after the meal.

Which one is better, or are both ok?

a) What sort of state were Coke's clothes in?

a) What sort of state are Coke's clothes in?

Thanks in advance
1 2
In many of your posts you ask about things related to a text that your students have read.

In the case of texts you may take the point of view that is 'internal' to the text, asking the question as if retelling the story of the text. In this case, since you are re-imagining the events of the story, you mean 'at that time in the course of the story', as if you were listening to the story once again.

What sort of state were Coke's clothes in (at that time in the course of the story)?

Or you may take the point of view that is 'external' to the text, asking the question about the text itself as something that is present before you. It is assumed in this case that you mean 'at this point in the text', as if you were pointing to a written passage.

What sort of state are Coke's clothes in (at this point in the text)?

_____________

The same choice is available for all texts - novels, plays, film scripts, and even musical scores - and in some ways even paintings and sculptures. All you need to do is be relatively consistent in your approach. In other words, don't ask one question from one point of view, then another from a different point of view. Try to stick to the same point of view for all questions related to the same text.

CJ
Hi CalifJim,Emotion: smile

This is the kind of answer I was looking for! It really is!!! Thank you so much.

CalifJimIn other words, don't ask one question from one point of view, then another from a different point of view. Try to stick to the same point of view for all questions related to the same text.
You mean, If I give them questions from a text, all of them should be in the simple past or the simple present. But I can't

mix them from the same text. Is that so?Emotion: thinking

I really love your explanations.
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Thinking SpainYou mean, If I give them questions from a text, all of them should be in the simple past or the simple present. But I can't
mix them from the same text. Is that so?
Yes, to the extent that you can do that in a reasonable way. But don't obsess about it. At times you may encounter situations where a change in tense makes more sense. Don't make yourself a slave to a rule. Emotion: smile

CJ
CalifJimDon't make yourself a slave to a rule.
That's a very good advice. Thank you very much.Emotion: happy
Thinking SpainThat's a very good advice.
Oops! Not this! advice is not countable in English.

That's very good advice.

OR

That's a very good piece of advice.

Thinking SpainThank you very much.
You're welcome. Emotion: wink

CJ
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CalifJimThat's a very good piece of advice.
Thank you very much for teaching me.Emotion: geeked
Thinking Spain The old lady is talking to someone called Coke.
"You know, your clothes are in a terrible state," the old lady said after the meal. Which one is better, or are both ok?

a) What sort of state were Coke's clothes in?

b) What sort of state are Coke's clothes in?
I know you have an answer to your question and I hope I won't confuse you in any way, but I want to point something out to you.

First you wrote ''The old lady is talking to..."; then you wrote "....the old lady said..." So your tenses are confused.

I think it is better to write in the second part '...the old lady says.' This could be a script, for example, as CalifJim suggested.

So, if you first say 'old lady is talking' and then say 'old lady says', b) would be correct.

On the other hand, if it is 'old lay was talking' and 'old lady said', a) would be correct.
Let me clarify a bit.

The first line (is talking to) is the set-up. It's to explain to us the source of the quote which follows. His students won't be reading this line.

The second line (said) is the exact text, taken from the source that TS is working with. It's the text his students are going to read. He can't change that. It's a quote.

a) and b) are questions he might ask his students about the quoted text.

Emotion: smile

CJ
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