All the flights____because of the snowstorm, we had to take the train instead.

A. were canceled B. had been canceled

C. having canceled D. having been canceled

Here is an exam question maded by Chinese education department?I guess. The correct answer is D and I asked one of my American friends,he thought both A and B are making sence.

  • 2
    This is a horrible question if you've copied it correctly. Your friend is right and the exam "correct" answer is wrong. Can you check the question again or have you written it from memory? – Catija May 3 '17 at 2:15
  • @Catija Yeah.. I'm pretty sure that I've copied it correctly. They explain that "comma" in English cannot separate two full sentences. If we use "were canceled" or " had been canceled", both of them will make the first part a full sentence. So that's why D is the correct answer. But it's really weird to use "having been canceled" in this sentence. – Bevis May 3 '17 at 2:25
  • 2
    @iBug I'm sorry but I don't know a single native speaker who would say "All the flights having been cancelled..." The reason I'm saying the sentence is wrong is because it's absurdly contrived. We would say "All the flights were cancelled because of the snowstorm so we had to take the train instead". – Catija May 3 '17 at 3:39
  • 1
    @Catija While I agree with your assertion that no native speaker would use "All the flights having been cancelled..." in conversation, I can see it being used in something like a retelling or account of a day's events. I agree it's still a bad question, but there is a context where the "correct" answer would make sense to me. – Cantalouping May 3 '17 at 4:02
  • 1
    @Catija - This native speaker would say it. It's not "absurdly contrived" in the least. You would be quite likely to find a sentence like that in a newspaper. – stangdon May 3 '17 at 4:02

Background: I am a Chinese student learning English like mad.

First of all, I eliminated both option A & B because there's only one single sentence, so if A or B were used, there needs to be a conjunction after the comma (...snowstorm, so we...). Therefore the former part of the sentnece must be a dependent clause. A comma should never separate two full sentences.
Now look at option C and D. The flights were canceled. They can't cancel themselves, so a passive voice should be used. Thus, "having been canceled" fits best here in the given scenario.

Extras: Why not use "being canceled"? Because event "the flights are canceled" happened before "we have to take the train", and it's a prerequisite of "we take the train". The two things happened one by one, so a perfect tense is used here.

  • Thanks man, you helped me alot.I am also a Chinese English learner but I am not a student anymore. Our country kept cultivating a bunch of grammar experts rather than people speak like native speakers. Sad story~ – Bevis May 3 '17 at 2:41
  • @Bevis But when I discuss things on Stack Exchange and Reddit, I don't care about grammar, either, leaving whatever I've learned from school behind. – iBug May 3 '17 at 4:03
  • @Bevis If you check out Chinese Language, you'll find non-native speakers learning Chinese just like we learn English. – iBug May 3 '17 at 4:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.