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(1a) John, a Grade 7 student, seems to try harder and spend more time on his homework. (my version)

I think "spend" is correct because it modifies "seems". That means, in a longer form,

John, a Grade 7 student, seems to try harder and he seems to spend more time on his homework.

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(1b) John, a Grade 7 student, seems to try harder and spends more time on his homework. (my friends' version).

They think "spends" is correct because it modifies "John". In a longer form,

John, a Grade 7 student, seems to try harder and he spends more time on his homework.


Which one is correct: (1a) or (1b)? Thank you for your help.

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Both are correct, with the distinction being as you have described.

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Both are correct, with different meanings.

In 1A, he seems to spend more time on his homework.

In 1B, it is stated as a fact.

Clive