This is a question of a certain listening comprehension test. It is done in this way.

Listen to the sentence first: We thought about inviting Lucy to come with us. Then choose the correct reply from the four choices: 1. Did she think so? 2. Why did she? 3. Did they accept? 4. Why didn't you?

I know the correct answer is No. 4. But I don't clearly understand why.

I think that the first sentece implies "we thought about inviting her to come with us, but we didn't invite her." So, No. 4 means "Why didn't you invite her?" what do you think of my interpretation? Pleae give me your comments.

  • 2
    your interpretation is completely correct. do you need help understanding why (1) - (3) are wrong? – hunter Jul 25 '14 at 12:44
  • 1
    I guess the rest of the answers could be correct if it's part of a real conversation, like: -We were trying to convince her parents to make the trip? -So what did you do? -We thought about inviting Lucy to come with us. -Did they accept?... – jinawee Jul 25 '14 at 13:10

The correct answer is number 4, whether or not the sentence is taken to imply whether Lucy was invited (though I'd agree with your understanding that it is implied that she wasn't), as the other replies do not follow from the sentence provided:

Answer 1: "Does she think so?" asks what Lucy thinks about an already mentioned position on some matter, it does not make sense as a follow up question as our example sentence as no position is explicitly stated

Answer 2: "Why did she?" asks about Lucy's reasons for doing something which she has just been mentioned as doing, this does not follow from the example sentence as Lucy is not reported to have done anything in that sentence

Answer 3: "Did they accept?" asks about a group's acceptance of something (possibly an invite), which doesn't follow from the example sentence as it does not pertain to a group

As for why their is an understood implication that Lucy was not asked... well that's harder to explain but I suspect you already have an intuitive feel for it :)

  • If you believed in using the singular they, and you didn't know Lucy's gender (though Lucy is usually a woman's name), you could make an argument for #3. – Nate Eldredge Jul 25 '14 at 18:13

The key goals of this exchange seem to be 1) matching the correct pronouns and 2) identifying the more important verb "invite".

We thought about inviting Lucy to come with us.

This statement includes both pronouns and verbs the listener must understand.

1) Did she think so?

"She" is the correct singular-female pronoun to refer to "Lucy," but this responses focuses on the wrong verb - "think/thought" instead of "invite." It's a distractor that references the words used in the original statement, but in an incorrect way. The statement isn't about what Lucy thought, so this answer doesn't make sense.

2) Why did she?

Why did who do what? "She" in this case can only refer to Lucy. There's nothing in the statement to indicate Lucy did anything. The people who did something are the "we" referred to by the speaker. Since the pronouns are incompatible and referring to the wrong person this response is incorrect.

3) Did they accept?

This response focuses on the proper verb: "invite." It requires that the listener recognize that the verb "accept" is used to respond positively to an invitation. It's incorrect, however, because "they" is a pronoun for a group, not for a single person, so it cannot refer to Lucy. "Did she accept?" would be ok.

4) Why didn't you?

As you noted, this is the correct answer. "You" in English can refer to a single person (the speaker) or a group (the "we" mentioned by the speaker). The sentence indicates that they thought about inviting Lucy, but they did not (otherwise they would likely say "we invited Lucy to come with us). The complete idea is "Why didn't you [invite her]?"

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