Were these activities being done on the basis of the instructions on the textbooks?

I'm doing a questionnaire, does this question make sense? Perhaps the 'being' is wrong?

  • 1
    @Lambie Your comment seems the most appropriate way to phrase this; it should go as an answer. Questions in a questionnaire should be kept as short and clear as possible, which your comment does nicely. I don't like the wordiness of the upvoted answer "carried out on the basis of the instructions in the text books". – AIQ Jun 7 '20 at 8:19

It would be more idiomatic to ask:

Were these activities (being) carried out on the basis of the instructions in the text books?

or more simply:

Were these activities (being) carried out according to the instructions in the text books?

  • so why do we need the "being" here? or why it can be omitted? what tense is that i'm kinda confused lol – Angyang Jun 6 '20 at 15:56
  • @Angyang, your comment could be the subject of another question. Btw, either the presence or the omission of the being has nothing to do with the tense of the sentence. – Lucian Sava Jun 6 '20 at 16:27
  • As Lucian says; It's a question of nuance. Immediately after the event, I might ask someone: Was my son being rude to you? If the event was some time ago, I would omit being. The meaning stays the same but being implies a certain period of time, however brief. – Ronald Sole Jun 6 '20 at 16:37
  • @RonaldSole: It's not so much whether the event was "some time ago". More to do with whether at time of speaking, the (past) time when that rudeness might have occurred is in fact the centre of attention (in a non-conversational context, what we'd call the "narrative reference time"). Even if the (possible) rudeness was actually several months or even years ago, you might still include being if you'd been talking about the relevant occasion / date before asking that question. – FumbleFingers Jun 6 '20 at 16:43

For a questionnaire:

  • Were these activities being done [by students] based on textbook instructions?. OR
  • Were students doing these activities based on textbook instructions?

There does not seem any reason to use the passive here so I would rewrite it as an active verb.

students do activities, they don't "carry them out".

Things are done based on x.

"instructions on textbooks" is not accurate. That would mean instructions about textbooks.

What is meant is instructions in textbooks, which can be shortened to: textbook instructions.

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