5

So, in the following extract, students are supposed to fill the correct form of the word (given in the parenthesis) in the blank beside it. The first one (0) has been given as am convinced. Here's the passage:

From ICSE board paper Page 5 Question 4,

I (0) ____ (convince) that my father (1) ____ (remember) by all those who value integrity. He (2) ____ (be) a man of learning and also saw to it that he (3) ____ (teach) his pupils with passion and patience. He, at times (4) ____ (use) to lose his temper, but that was because he always (5) ____ (want) his pupils to learn and learn well. As a person, he was honest and simple. His greatness (6) ___ (lie) in the fact that he (7) ____ (have) a pure heart, devoid of malice. Such a man is always valued and (8) ____ (be) very rare to find.

Here are my answers:

  1. is remembered
  2. was
  3. taught
  4. used
  5. wanted
  6. lies
  7. had
  8. is

Problem: All my answers except point 6 were marked correct. So the passage reads:

I am convinced that my father is remembered by all those who value integrity. He was a man of learning and also saw to it that he taught his pupils with passion and patience. He, at times used to lose his temper, but that was because he always wanted his pupils to learn and learn well. As a person, he was honest and simple. His greatness (6) ___ (lie) in the fact that he had a pure heart, devoid of malice. Such a man is always valued and is very rare to find.

Question: Is my teacher correct when she says that the point 6 should be "lay" not "lies"? In my opinion, even though the man is dead, his greatness is present (and that's the reason why he is remembered (point 1)). And since 'greatness' is present, the verb lie should be written as lies in point 6.

What's the correct answer for point 6 and why?

UPDATE: (to answers by VarunKN and miqdadamirali) While it is true that the sentence and most of the passage are in past tense, but the fact is that verbs must agree with their subject, and so that the verb lie should agree with its subject greatness. So, since greatness is still present and exists, therefore the verb should be written as lies

UPDATE 2: Thank you all! I am finally convinced that the verb should be lay. Here are some points to note:

  1. You used 'had' as you answer for (7). Now since that is in the past, you should've used 'lay' to maintain the tense of the sentence. And to start with, the sentence is already in the past tense with the inclusion of 'was'. (Varun KN)
  2. His greatness lay in things that only held while he was alive. He is no longer alive and therefore no longer great. That is to say that he is no longer honest and simple with a pure heart devoid of malice, so he is no longer great. (Brythan)
  3. Another point: even in cases where someone is still great, it is controvertible that he was great while alive. So lay is always correct. In some circumstances, he may still be great. In this case, the context is to talk about his characteristics while alive. His greatness in life is clearly past tense. (Brythan)
  4. It is exceptionally hard to write a passage in which every blank or every choice will have one correct answer. (Go Ducks)
2

UPDATE: (to answers by VarunKN and miqdadamirali) While it is true that the sentence and most of the passage are in past tense, but the fact is that verbs must agree with their subject, and so that the verb lie should agree with its subject greatness. So, since greatness is still present and exists, therefore the verb should be written as lies

While clever, this is incorrect. His greatness lay in things that only held while he was alive. He is no longer alive and therefore no longer great. That is to say that he is no longer honest and simple with a pure heart devoid of malice, so he is no longer great.

Another point: even in cases where someone is still great, it is controvertible that he was great while alive. So lay is always correct. In some circumstances, he may still be great. In this case, the context is to talk about his characteristics while alive. His greatness in life is clearly past tense.

Or to put it another way, his pure heart made him great in life. If you also want him to be great in death, you need to give a more persistent reason. For example, the memory of his actions makes him great now. But that's not what the passage is saying. It's saying that when alive, he was great.

8

IMO, The teacher is correct to mark it wrong. Let me explain.

As a person, he was honest and simple. His greatness (6) ___ (lie) in the fact that he (7) ____ (have) a pure heart, devoid of malice.

You used 'had' as you answer for (7). Now since that is in the past, you should've used 'lay' to maintain the tense of the sentence. And to start with, the sentence is already in the past tense with the inclusion of 'was'.

As a person, he was honest and simple. His greatness lay in the fact that he had a pure heart, devoid of malice.

  • 1
    I would, however, say that the greatness (still) lies (today) would be correct, as the man is not alive today, but his greatness is. – cst1992 Dec 28 '15 at 13:20
  • @cst1992 Since his greatness came/comes from his pure heart, either the heart still exists and he still has it, or he's no longer great in the present tense. (So the verbs must agree.) To say what you're thinking, you'd want, "His greatness lies in the fact that he once had a pure heart, devoid of malice." That makes it explicit that having the heart at some point in the past confers ongoing effects, even after the heart is no longer possessed. – Perkins Dec 28 '15 at 18:26
4

You have to be able to differentiate the difference between he verbs lie and lay. Notice that that in these questions, all the words you have been provided with, are in present tense.

to lay: is to put something down

to lie: is to rest or recline.

His greatness was not put down on a fact, instead it rested on a fact.

The verb lie in simple past is written as lay. The sentence becomes in past tense because firstly, the mentioned person is dead, and secondly, the verb have(7) is in past tense. You have to maintain the same tense throughout the sentence.

Therefore:

His greatness lay in the fact that he had a pure heart, devoid of malice.

When you say "lies", it is still in present tense. For further info

2

Your sense of using lies is correct.
As a native AmE speaker, in a eulogy one would hope the memory of a person and their deeds to continue and persist, and in a eulogy, I would use

the memory of his greatness lies

for emphasis and since it continues to the present day and there would be no ambiguity.

Ghandi's greatness lies in his example of the use of nonviolent protest
Ghandi's greatness lay in his example of the use of nonviolent protest

The use of lay, grammatically, would only speak to his reputation while he was alive, though it may be implicitly understood to continue to persist through common knowledge.

As a grammar exercise, I can understand why your teacher would choose lay as the correct answer, but in a real world eulogy, I would use lies. Also, from my experience, I can understand why a BrE speaker would choose lay, as culturally it is a bit more understated.

1

It is exceptionally hard to write a passage in which every blank or every choice will have one correct answer.

For example, I am not convinced that #1 should be is remembered. It seems as natural and probably more natural to cast that as will be remembered.

Second, a person's greatness can live on after the demise of that person. And one could put lies for #6. However, if one does that, the resulting sentence

His greatness lies in the fact that he had a pure heart, devoid of malice

seems awkward because of the past simple had in the second clause, as well as throughout the passage.

A man can be great during his lifetime, and that past greatness can be referenced after his death. This does not mean that the person's greatness cannot outlive the man himself. But it also does not mean that we cannot refer to the greatness he had while alive, which is what the sentence is doing here, taken in its best form.

You are free to disagree, and ultimately neither choice, lies or lay is incontrovertibly correct or incorrect. But stylistically and temporally, I would write lay here...

...and will be remembered for #1. Because it is natural to assume that the writer wants his father to be remembered, and by more and more people, in the indefinite future (will be remembered) not just in the indefinite present is remembered).

0

You are misunderstanding. "His greatness" refers to his greatness while he was alive; therefore, it is in the past, and the past tense should be used.

Greatness is an attribute of the person who passed, like kindness. It is immaterial, and it cannot survive the person. He cannot continue achieving greatness or being kind after death.

  • Why the down vote? – cbay Dec 28 '15 at 22:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.