The following two questions are taken from my younger sister's test on English (Apparently they are made up by non-native speakers):

  1. -- I wish I had succeeded in the final exams.

    -- Yeah, I know. But _____ hard?

    A. do you study B. did you study

    C. had you studied D. have you studied

  2. -- I'm very disappointed with my neighbor. She said she would keep her cat off my grass, but she _____.

    A. didn't B. hasn't C. wouldn't D. hadn't

Both of the answers are B. Although I understand the grammar rules which the test is intended to challenge young students on, I don't think these two questions work well for language learning.

In the given contexts, I think D and A works fine as well respectively.

The present perfect tense in Q1 would sound like more of a rhetorical question, saying the hearer haven't studied hard at all.

The simple past tense in Q2 would sound more natural to my ears, for it would follow the normal tense sequence. I know the original answer is trying to tell students "she hasn't (kept her cat on a leash until now)."

I would like to hear some opinions from a native speaker.

  • The questions are fine. They're not asking about all possible contexts, but the one presented above.
    – user3395
    May 3 '16 at 15:49
  • I'm not asking about all possible contexts, but all possible answers in the given contexts! @user2684291
    – Kinzle B
    May 3 '16 at 15:53
  • Same difference. What you're essentially doing is misconstruing it in order to employ a different verb tense.
    – user3395
    May 3 '16 at 15:53
  • I wasn't questioning the validity of these questions, but the answer is not unique for these two, which is bad for learning English! Students might be misguided to think the other alternatives are wrong! @user2684291
    – Kinzle B
    May 3 '16 at 16:00
  • The ones you suggest aren't grammatically wrong, but they don't make as much sense as the standard answers. For example, for the first one, "did you study hard?" makes more sense because we're talking about having studied before the test, not as of now.
    – stangdon
    May 3 '16 at 16:18

Both of the choices you are thinking about are not incorrect, but they have different meanings.

To answer the question

I wish I had succeeded in the final exams.

the answer

Yeah, I know. But did you study hard?

would ask about how the person studied for the specific test.

Yeah, I know. But do you study hard?

would ask about how the person habitually studies in general, and implied for the specific test. It might be used to open a conversation about improving study habits.

For the statement

She said she would keep her cat off my grass, but she hasn't.

means the neighbour did and continues to allow her cat on your grass, much to your annoyance.

She said she would keep her cat off my grass, but she didn't.

means the neighbour did not in the past keep her cat off your grass, but possibly now she does (since you threatened to let your dog chase her cat).

  • In "she said she would keep her cat off my grass, but she didn't", I don't think it necessarily implies she does it now. We just don't know if she is doing it or will do it.
    – Kinzle B
    Aug 25 '16 at 15:54
  • I agree, we don't know, that's why I said "possibly".
    – Peter
    Aug 25 '16 at 19:23

You're actually on firm ground with "but she didn't" (you're right, the test is wrong for saying you're wrong) but not with "have you studied".

My neighbor said she would ... but she has not|did not. (both are ok)

My neighbor has said she would... but she has not.

Have you studied? would be a non-sequitur, having nothing to do with the speaker's current knowledge that she did not succeed: I wish I had succeeded...

Have you studied? would be appropriate for I hope I succeed...

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