1

I am confused about the following fill-in-the-blank question.

The two men walked back to where their friend was supposed to be cooking the rice.

They supposed that the cook ________ the rice.

  1. was cooking
  2. to be cooking

Which answer is correct and why?

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Scene: Mike, Joe, and Tom are hiking in the forest. Mike and Joe say that they will look for some fruit trees. Tom's job is to stay at camp and cook the rice.

Mike and Joe walked about a mile, and found a fruit tree. They picked some fruit. Then, the two men walked back to where their friend was supposed to be cooking the rice.

They supposed that Tom ________ the rice.

We can say this in two ways, with or without "that".

They supposed that Tom ________ the rice.

They supposed Tom ________ the rice.

to suppose + that-clause (or reduced that-clause without "that")

to suppose + infinitive-phrase.

They supposed that Tom was cooking the rice.

They supposed [] Tom was cooking the rice. [reduced]

They supposed Tom to be cooking the rice. [infinitive complement]

to be cooking = to be engaged in the act of preparing food

We would not say:

not OK They supposed Tom is cooking the rice.

because supposed is in the past tense, and therefore either a past tense or an infinitive is needed in the complement. The verb in the complement cannot disagree time-wise with the tense of the verb in the main clause. An infinitive has no tense, so it does not disagree time-wise.

https://www.tacoma.uw.edu/sites/default/files/sections/TeachingandLearningCenter/Grammar%20%20Complementation%20Parts%20A_B_C.pdf

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Was cooking is correct.
The two mean thought something should have happened in the past.

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