My question is about this sentence correction exercise:

The qualities which have supported Tilak and given him his hard earned success have been rare in Indian politics.

The only options are

  1. gave
  2. have given
  3. had given
  4. no improvement

Here instead of given (gave) is used, why is "have given" not correct?

  • 1
    It's given because this is an example of "deletion of repeated (and therefore expected / unnecessary) word". It's thus a "reduced" form of qualities which have supported tilak and have given him success. Perfectly natural in English. Using gave wouldn't exactly be grammatically "incorrect", but it would be an ugly/awkward mix of tenses, which native speakers would avoid. Jul 27, 2018 at 16:40
  • So have given can be used? Or gave, which is more appropriate? Jul 27, 2018 at 16:43
  • Use either ...qualities which supported tilak and gave him success or ...qualities which have supported tilak and [have] given him success, whichever you prefer. Just don't mix Perfect and Simple Past forms in such a construction. Arguably the Perfect is more appropriate if you want to connect the assertion to time of speaking - especially the final have been rare, which strongly implies that (Tilak excepted) such qualities both were and are still rare. Jul 27, 2018 at 16:48
  • Actually its a sentence improvement question and only given is highlighted so we have to correct it only options are 1)gave 2)have given 3)had given 4) no improvement Jul 27, 2018 at 16:51
  • 1
    The text as cited is best. Of those alternatives, as I have already explained, have given is simply the "long" version of the original (it's perfectly acceptable, and I think the test-setter is badly mistaken if he thinks it's meaningful to suggest that "fully-expanded" version is somehow either better or worse than the "deleted" version as cited). The other two alternatives are either stylistically awful or actually ungrammatical (offhand I'm not sure which, but don't even think about using them). Jul 27, 2018 at 17:17

1 Answer 1


It seems that your example comes from a poorly-written set of questions. 

This Mahatma Academy page includes ten questions.  The seventh matches your example. 

Of these ten, half are flawed.  Even the page as a whole is flawed, since the directions for the entire set is nonsensically repeated after the heading for the first question.  This gave me reason to wonder who is responsible for this site.  I'm still left wondering.  The about page contains WordPress example text, without a hint of the site's purpose or authorship. 

Consider the very first question offered:

Question No:1
Directions In the following questions, a part of the sentence is bold. Below are given alternatives to the bold part at (1), (2), (3) and (4) which may improve the sentence. Choose the correct alternative.
He told his tale of woe with tears in his eyes.

At a glance, I naturally assumed that no improvement was needed.  However, that option isn't offered:

(A) narrated
(B) recited
(C) was telling
(D) narrate

Despite the phrasing of the directions, there are no options provided at (1), (2), (3) or (4).  I can eliminate option (D) as an ungrammatical structure in model sentence.  It fails to employ proper subject/verb agreement.  The rest are grammatically sound.  Since we are given no further context, I see no reason to prefer any of them to the simple "told" of the original model. 

The provided answer key considers (A) to be correct.  I can't explain that choice.  Apparently, neither can the site, given how badly the following is formatted and phrased:

Explanation:- tell (Verb) : to give information to somebody by speaking or writing narrate (Verb) : to tell a story ; to relate Simple Past Tense ‘narrated’ will be used

This explanation, such as it is, supports leaving the verb alone at least as well as it supports the substitution.

This Mahatma Academy page certainly, and the site as a whole most likely, is too flawed to be of any use.


EverydayQuiz also references the model sentence involving Tilak, followed by the same options.  The answer key on that site sensibly lists (D) No Improvement as the correct choice.  That, at least, is an answer that I can understand and explain.

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