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I have a small doubt: I was doing an exercise where a statement is given which you have to reformulate using a given word.

The statement given:

The company is selling their products at the trade fair.

The new statement (sale) "The company___________at the trade fair."

Solution: "The company's products will be on sale at the trade fair."

I didn't understand. Shouldn't it be "The company's products are on sale at the trade fair", since the first statement is in present continuous?

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    You need either an extra word in your suggestion: The company's products are to be on sale at the trade fair, or an omitted word: The company's products are on sale at the trade fair. You don't want to say "are be". That all said, I like the published solution best of all: The company's products will be on sale at the trade fair. That's how I'd write it. – J.R. Jun 17 '13 at 0:03
  • @J.R, thanks for replying, I made a mistake, I meant "The company's products are on sale at the trade fair" – dreamcrash Jun 17 '13 at 0:07
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Oh, dear. This question cannot have a right answer.

To begin with, the question (as happens all too frequently in these exercises) has a grammatical ambiguity: Simple present and present continuous forms in English may have either present or future reference, so the 'base sentence' in the question thus supports two different contexts:

The company is selling their products at the trade fair right now.
The company is selling their products at the trade fair next week.

Consequently, even restricting ourselves to simple present and will-future of the be on sale expression, both of these answers are entirely justifiable:

The company's products are on sale at the trade fair.
The company's products will be on sale at the trade fair.

Still restricting ourselves to the be on sale, there are more ways of expressing futurity.

The company's products are to be on sale ...
The company's products are going to be on sale ...

But there are also many other possible ways of expressing the proposition using sale. Let's start with expressions using on sale; unlike the 'right' answers, these all maintain the company's syntactic role as Agent:

The company has/will have/is going to have/is to have its products on sale ...
The company is exhibiting/will exhibit/is going to exhibit/is to exhibit its products on sale ...
The company intends to have its products on sale ...
The company has put/will put/is going to put/is to put its products on sale ...

And then let's take US usage into account. Around here on sale means at a reduced price; we say for sale. So you've got to match all the sentences above with versions using for instead of on.

And then there are expressions which don't use a preposition, such as

The company is holding/will hold/is going to hold/is to hold a sale of its products ...
The company's sale of its products is taking/will take/is going to take/is to take place at ...
The company is pushing/will push/is going to push/is to push sale of its products ...

You get the idea. There are more ways than one of selling product.

  • Thanks you sir, good answer indeed, I got the point now ;) – dreamcrash Jun 17 '13 at 1:52
  • @dreamcrash I guess I went a little overboard; but those guys who make up exercises - and formal tests, which people's educational and economic lives depend on - without thinking about these things really really vex me. – StoneyB Jun 17 '13 at 1:55
  • @dreamcrash Note, by the way, that you are right: the answer you suggested is in fact entirely acceptable and the best (because simplest) of the present-tense versions. – StoneyB Jun 17 '13 at 1:58
  • Yep, me either. The teacher explanation was that the statement context implies future, "present continuous for future arrangements or plans" – dreamcrash Jun 17 '13 at 1:59
  • Well, it can imply that, but it doesn't have to imply that. Absent explicit futurive context, present reference is the default reading. – StoneyB Jun 17 '13 at 2:02

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