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Q: They_______the saplings before we reach home.

Options:

  1. will have been planting
  2. will be planting
  3. planted
  4. will have planted

I got this question in my recent FSSAI exam and I have to fill objection form including this question because the correct answer they provided in the answer key is Option 2 which I think is incorrect but I might be wrong hence the reason for my post here.

I think that Option 1 should be the most suitable one. What do you think?

  • Can you add why do you think Option 1 is the most suitable one? – TK-421 Jul 31 at 10:03
  • It's a stupid "test". All options are syntactically valid, so without a full context it's almost meaningless to select a "best" answer. That could only reflect a personal opinion as to most likely scenario, which only indirectly relates to "preferred utterance". – FumbleFingers Jul 31 at 12:04
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The "before we reach home" indictates a future time. So 1 or 2 or 4 look possible.

They have slightly different meanings. 1 suggests that they will start planting and the planting activity was ongoing before we reach home. 2 has a very similar meaning. 3 means all the saplings will be planted when we reach home.

  • The question is "Which is the correct/most appropriate option out of the following" You have not answered the question. – Brad Jul 31 at 12:08
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Option 1:

They will have been planting the saplings before we reach home

This suggests the planting activity has started, but doesn't sounds right to me unless you qualify how long it's been going:

They will have been planting the saplings for 4 hours before we reach home
They will have been planting the saplings for 4 hours by the time we reach home


Option 2:

They will be planting the saplings before we reach home

This suggests much the same as 1 but without the need (in my mind) to stipulate how long it has been going on for. Simply, the activity has started and will be ongoing by the time we get there

As it doesn't need any edits to make sense, this could be considered as the correct option, but might depend on context - a more natural way to say this would be:

They will have started planting the saplings before we reach home


Option 3:

They planted the saplings before we reach home

This mixes tenses in the wrong way - it states something has definitely happened but gives a future time that it would depend on, so to be correct:

They planted the saplings before we reached home


Option 4:

They will have planted the saplings before we reach home

This option theorises that by the time they get home, all the saplings will have been planted.
(All the cakes will be eaten before we get to the party)

This option also seems correct to me


Summary:

I believe either option 2 or 4 could be considered correct, but would depend on what you actually wanted to say. The question is "Will the planting be ongoing[2] or finished[4] by the time you get home?"

To me, Option 4 sounds the most natural out of all of them.

  • Option 2 cannot be correct Before is before, Be is now, so wrong tense. – Brad Jul 31 at 12:14
  • @Brad "will be" and "before we reach" are both in the future (After now, but preceding a certain time point). The sun will be setting before we reach home. The sun is not setting yet, and we haven't reached home yet. The sun will be in the act of setting prior to that of us getting home, but will not have finished setting. But that is the reason I hesitate to say that option 2 is the absolute correct, as it doesn't sound natural. – Smock Jul 31 at 12:18
  • UK English: before: at or during a time earlier than (the thing mentioned): until (the event mentioned):or in the past: According to C.E.D, Before he could reach the door, she quickly closed it. By your definition she would not be able to close the door because he had already reached it. – Brad Jul 31 at 12:34
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    @Brad "Before" can still refer to the future if (the thing mentioned) is itself in the future. "I am going to the dentist tomorrow, but before that I will brush my teeth." – Showsni Jul 31 at 12:49
  • @Showsni Correct But that is option 1 not 2 and Smock had already eliminated that option. – Brad Jul 31 at 13:32
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I would go with:

They will have planted the saplings before we reach home

The speaker is referring to something that they are already doing (planting the samplings) and that they will have finished by the time "we reach home"

  • I also think will have planted before we get home but I suggest you need to explain why. With supporting links to source material if possible for example be planting would need to used with when we get home not before, because....... – Brad Jul 31 at 12:00

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