1. I am not sure how well I did in the test at school today, but I think I might pass.
  2. Poor Sarah! On making the coffee, the gas-oven got burnt.

My thoughts so far:

In (1) Not sure at all, but it will be either "might" or "well".

In (2) the mistake will maybe be with "on" as it means soon after so maybe "while" will give more realistic meaning.

  • 1
    Can you state which English you're learning? As an American, "burnt" would generally be "burned" but I don't think that's the issue if you're going for British English. – Catija May 22 '15 at 8:29
  • British , but both burnt , burned work for me. – Hoyt Volker May 22 '15 at 8:30
  • 2
    While instead of on does the trick for the second one. The coffee is just fine, referring to a specific serving of coffee, mentioned or implied; after dinner, while making the coffee,... works as the after-dinner coffee, implying that making coffee after dinner is a normal thing to do (I do realize that in many cultures it is not a normal thing). For the first sentence, since the exam has been taken, and the passing has thus happened (or not) already, I'd say I think I might have passed. Substituting may for might just changes the intensity or likelihood of the passing. – oerkelens May 22 '15 at 9:02
  • 2
    Is it just me, or does the second sentence mean that the stove got burned?! Isn't Sarah the one who's supposed to get burned, since we are saying "Poor Sarah!" not "Poor stove!". In my experience, kitchen appliances don't get burned unless they are friends with The Brave Little Toaster :-) – Lucky May 22 '15 at 10:17
  • 4
    Is everyone really OK with "how well I did in the test"? Is that a BrE thing? – Catija May 22 '15 at 16:38

This seems like an exercise in using “on” and “in” like a native speaker. Here’s how I would write the two examples (that is, here is a minimal change that makes them sound much better to me):

  1. I am not sure how well I did in on the test at school today, but I think I might pass.
  2. On In making the coffee, the stove got burned.

This mention of a test takes a common form, where the abstract noun referring to an evaluation is essentially reduced to the paper (or screen) on which the test is written. That’s my fancy explanation for the fact that “did well in the test” sounds odd for a person to say about themselves. “Salt did well in the test” sounds normal, however, probably because that’s an experiment and salt is inanimate.

In the second example, I believe your instincts are correct. What you might not know is that “in” can mean “while” or “in the process of”. I don’t think anyone would be too confused to hear it in its original format (other than wondering how Sarah is to be pitied for the stove being burned). After all, “on” can also mean “upon” as in “at the moment (of making coffee)” which only sounds slightly strange, probably to do with the fact that making coffee is a continuous process (not instantaneous).

  • "On" here appends the meaning of immediately after. I think "in" will make the sentence senseless , won't it ? – Hoyt Volker May 22 '15 at 20:25
  • @Hoyt You’re absolutely right that “on” carries that sense, but it feels odd here. Even if I can get past the notion that “on” should accompany events that are more or less instantaneous (which coffee-making is not, no matter what someone sells you), “on” just sounds like it should be “upon” at the very least—and possibly better still—as “in” as I’ve written. Really the most common way to write this would probably be in a different order altogether that makes the events clear: “Poor Sarah! When she made the coffee, the stove got burned.” or even “Sarah burned the stove making the coffee.” – Tyler James Young May 26 '15 at 14:37
  • By the way, I am not native. So if you are. You must be more knowledgeable than me, It's your mother-tongue language. – Hoyt Volker May 26 '15 at 19:33

It's difficult, as a native speaker both sentences sound natural enough to me, though there is some ambiguity:

  1. I am not sure how well I did in the test at school today, but I think I will pass.

You're already expressing uncertainty by saying I think. "But I think I'll pass" sounds slightly more natural, but this is an extremely subtle shift in tone for a second-language speaker to understand. Do you know what the question is looking for, in general terms? Is it a test on your vocabulary or grammar?

  1. Poor Sarah! On making the coffee, the gas-oven was burnt.

This is a test on the passive voice. Hopefully someone else can find a formal explanation for you, but "get burnt" sounds like bad English. The verb to be should be used instead.

  • 2
    Note that this is a very opinionated answer. Perhaps the problem with (2) is that "on making the coffee" sounds a bit clumsy, or that the stove burns Sarah instead of getting burnt which is why we say "poor Sarah", etc. There's no obvious mistake that I can see in the question, just different ways to improve its readability. I would advice you to ask you tutor for help on this question after handing in your work – Mark May 22 '15 at 10:46
  • +1 Maybe it's just me, but it sounds a bit like the oven was making the coffee, doesn't it? ;-) IMHO, the second sentence is broken beyond repair with just a one-word fix. – Damkerng T. May 22 '15 at 12:11
  • @Mark is the passive voice an AmE thing? I've never heard it in BrE – Tim May 22 '15 at 16:30
  • The questions were in the review Advanced questions category. Unfortunately , my teacher didn't give me any answer which makes sense. – Hoyt Volker May 22 '15 at 20:13

Statement #1

I'm not sure how well I did in the test at school today, but I think I will pass.

  1. Either you say "but I might pass" or you say "but I think I will pass".
  2. I think you've written this sentence yourself because it doesn't look well formed to me. I would rather say:

I'm not sure how did I do in the school test today. But I think I will pass.

Statement #2

Poor Sarah! While making coffee, the gas-oven got burnt.

  1. The oven got burnt when she was in the process of making coffee. Therefore, use while.
  2. "coffee" doesn't need an article unless you're making some special type which should be mentioned.
  3. Again, the statement is poorly formed. It would be better to say Sarah's oven got burnt. Using 'the' when not properly specifying which oven is not good usage. I would rather say:

Poor Sarah! Her gas-oven got burnt while making coffee.

  • 2
    Your rewrite of the first sentence would not be deemed grammatical by most speakers. "I'm not sure how did I do" is not a natural way of saying "I am not sure how I did". The OP's original is certainly better-formed than your alternative. As for the second sentence, "While A happened, B happened" is just as well-formed as "B happened while A happened". It's a simple matter of style and taste, but one is not better or better-formed than the other. – oerkelens May 22 '15 at 11:44
  • With all respect, "how did I do" this inversion is used when we are questioning or in special positions like No sooner had he / So dear is this lady to your heart. "How" here - to my limited understanding - is just a clause which gives information , you can even get rid of it "'m not sure, but I might pass" – Hoyt Volker May 22 '15 at 20:17

I think, in first sentense it is better to use Present Perfect, because the word "today" is related to the present time.

I have done the test at school today.

  • I think you are right, because This question was in the exercises of Present perfect / Present simple / Modal verbs as well as The event has ended and it has relation with the future as whether she will succeed or fail – Hoyt Volker May 26 '15 at 19:30
  • To this native AmEng speaker, "I have done" does not sound right either on its own, or in the complete sentence in the question. The first sentence as given sounds perfectly fine to me. – mkennedy May 26 '15 at 23:26
  • But ... in that sentence, past tense works perfectly well, and present perfect is not as good because the test was earlier today, and is now over. Using past tense is not a mistake, and if your teacher says it is, your teacher is wrong. – Peter Shor May 26 '15 at 23:33

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