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________ such a terrible earthquake hit the area, no one can tell how devastating the aftermath will be.

  1. That
  2. Could
  3. When
  4. Should
  5. Because

The answer is 'should'. 'When' is impossibe because if you use 'when' you should change 'hit' to 'hits'. So I wonder 'if' is possible?

Q1) "If such a terrible earthquake hit the area,~" is this sentence possible? (specially in grammar)

If possible

If such a terrible earthquake should hit the area, ~ (hit = verb root)
If such a terrible earthquake hit the area,~ (hit = past verb)

Q2) What is difference between two sentences?

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    This is the kind of question that gets thrown out of standardized tests. It is flawed. The sentence is not perfectly grammatical with any of the answers. If it had said "has hit", I'd choose "Because". If it had said "hits an", I'd choose "When".
    – TimR
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 13:44
  • 3
    I think it's a bad MCQ. Syntactically, should seems at the very least "flaky" to me (I'd expect the sentence to end with how devastating the aftermath would be). So disregarding the semantics, I'd have to say because looks like a better bet on purely grammatical grounds. As regards Q2, including should unambiguously implies the earthquake hasn't happened yet (and might never), but without it, the sentence might be interpreted as meaning it might have already happened (but the speaker doesn't know whether it did or not). Commented May 17, 2015 at 13:50
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    Bad multiple choice questions regularly appear on standardized tests without being "thrown out", though…
    – user230
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 14:05
  • @snailboat: True, but we tend to end up writing answers/comments that would be more appropriate if we were trying to enlighten the examiner. But I think it really is a stupid "test", particularly when I ask myself why the examiner chose to include the totally irrelevant business about no-one can tell how [blah blah]. Is it just there to throw the examinee off the track? I think elements that don't directly relate to the construction being queried should be avoided (or at the very least minimised). Much better to just put it will be devastating after the comma. Commented May 17, 2015 at 14:34

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The fact that the main clause is in the future tense (will) would lead me to think that the hypothetical premise should be in the present tense:

If such a terrible earthquake hits the area, no one can tell how devastating the aftermath will be.

But that of course is not possible, since we neither have "if" among the answers nor "hits" in the sentence.

Certainly "should" makes more sense, even though that would imply, in my mind, that a second coinditional sentence should be formed, that is:

Should such a terrible earthquake hit the area, no one can tell how devastating the aftermath would be.

As for your two examples with "if", they are both acceptable, and equal in meaning.

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