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In a village at the edge of the rainforest, the skilled and nimble fingers of an old woman bend fabric and straw into graceful baskets. The baskets are the perfect size to hold papayas, but they also held centuries of craft and tribal identity...

a) no change
b) they would also hold
c) they would have also held
d) they are also holding

I had found this problem quite hard because in my opinion, all of the answer choices are rather awkward. In the end I ended up choosing B because although the "would" bothered me, I had thought "they also hold" is fine. However, it turns out that D) is correct. Could someone help me understand this better, though?

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All of the options are awkward, but only D keeps the verb in present tense.

"Baskets are" = present tense

  • "they held" = past tense
  • "they would hold" = future perfect tense
  • "they would have held" = past future perfect tense
  • "they are holding" = present tense

In your question, I believe you confuse "held" and "hold". The quote uses held (past tense), but later you write: "I had thought 'they also hold' is fine." This would be correct (present tense), but that is not what the quote says.

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In your example

they also held

would be the same as

they also hold

however, that is not one of your choices. The other compareable choices use "would" which makes the meaning more of a possibility which has a different meaning since the "centuries of craft and tribal identity" is always part of the basket.

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