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In a secondary school exam, I found this question

The Princess came into the room and I bowed down to her. "It seems you've tricked me," she said, but not unkindly. "I would like to apologise to you for this," I said. "You don't need to apologise. I should thank you for all you've done for Ruritania," she said. "I've learned all about duties and responsibilities," I said to her. "It's a lesson I'll never forget." "And we'll never forget how you've helped the King," she replied. The King smiled, then closed his eyes and fell asleep, and the doctor said it was best if I left him.

Q "It seems you've tricked me" What trick was the speaker thought to play?

I think the question reversed the situation and isn't grammatically correct as well, is it? If it is not correct, how shall it look like? Would it be grammatically correct if we said

What trick did the speaker think to have been played?

Thanks in advance

  • I don't think there is enough information here. The question is grammatically correct, but it doesn't match the quote. I guess there was a longer text from which "It seems you've tricked me" has been quoted. Can you link to the full question? – James K Aug 28 '17 at 21:26
  • This is a quotation from a simplified version of "The Prisoner of Zenda" by Anthony Hope. And the question is about the mentioned trick. – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 21:36
  • Is the second question I quoted correct? – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 21:37
  • Which chapter? Is the simplified text online, since the word "tricked" doesn't appear in the orginal. – James K Aug 28 '17 at 21:42
  • The Princess came into the room and I bowed down to her. "It seems you've tricked me," she said, but not unkindly. "I would like to apologise to you for this," I said. "You don't need to apologise. I should thank you for all you've done for Ruritania," she said. "I've learned all about duties and responsibilities," I said to her. "It's a lesson I'll never forget." "And we'll never forget how you've helped the King," she replied. The King smiled, then closed his eyes and fell asleep, and the doctor said it was best if I left him. – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 22:24
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The scene doesn't occur in the original. The general warning that questions set by non-native speakers sometimes contain errors that native speakers are unlikely to make.

Here I think the confusion is between "speaker" and the more correct "narrator". The Prisoner or Zenda is a first person narrative. The narrator uses "I", and the tale is told entirely from his point of view.

The narrator, Rudolf, has disguised himself as the King, and tricked the Princess Flavia. The narrator is quoting the Princess in this scene. Given this I think the question should have been:

"It seems you've tricked me." What trick was the narrator thought to play?

However, as quote uses the perfect tense I prefer:

"It seems you've tricked me." What trick was the narrator thought to have played?

  • I really appreciate your helping me 😀 – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 22:54
  • Sadly, this mistake was made by one of the highest educational administrators in Egypt in an exam for more than a half million students – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 23:07
  • Sorry. But I have a little question. If the quotation were "You seem you're tricking me", would it be "to play"? And if it is perfect, is it optional to use "to have played"? And thanks – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 23:25
  • "It seems you're tricking me." What trick was the narrator thought to be playing? - I think this sounds like a reasonable question. It just sounds better if the tense in the quote and the tense in the question match. It's optional. – James K Aug 28 '17 at 23:32
  • But if not, it's correct, isn't it? – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 23:34
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I'm afraid not. The question as you've quoted it is normal English: your emendation is not.

The idiom "thought to" means that somebody who is not mentioned - possibly the whole of society - is doing the thinking. The idiom barely exists in the active - "I think him to be ... " is fairly literary, but "I think him to play" (or other active verbs) is probably not grammatical.

As James K says, the excerpt you've quoted does not quite make sense, because it is completely clear that "the speaker" is not the person who said "It seems you've tricked me", but the person that they are talking to

  • Thank you for your answer. But if I wanted to use a similar structure to ask about the trick the addressed person played _not the speaker, how would it look like? – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 21:41
  • Sorry, I don't understand what you are asking. As I said, "X was thought to Y" is not about any particular person's thinking, whereas any form with the active "think" will have a subject, and therefore a thinker, expressed. – Colin Fine Aug 28 '17 at 21:48
  • Actually, it has just occurred to me that one possible construction of the question is that the speaker saying "It seems you've tricked me" is itself a trick, and that trick is the focus of the question. Only with more context will it be clear whether this is a plausible interpretation or not. – Colin Fine Aug 28 '17 at 21:53
  • Here is the context – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 22:23
  • The Princess came into the room and I bowed down to her. "It seems you've tricked me," she said, but not unkindly. "I would like to apologise to you for this," I said. "You don't need to apologise. I should thank you for all you've done for Ruritania," she said. "I've learned all about duties and responsibilities," I said to her. "It's a lesson I'll never forget." "And we'll never forget how you've helped the King," she replied. The King smiled, then closed his eyes and fell asleep, and the doctor said it was best if I left him. – Mohamed S Darwish Aug 28 '17 at 22:23

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