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I’m studying for TOIEC, and I was just now working on some of the sample problems.

I find this next one very confusing:

Our company policy requires employees ____ in accordance with federal safety reguations at all times.

  1. acting
  2. acted
  3. are acting
  4. to act

They say the right answer is #4, but I don't know why answer #1 is not acceptable.

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2 Answers 2

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The instruction for that part of the TOEIC test is 'Select the best answer to complete the sentence'. The best-written test questions have one option which is completely correct and (one, two or) three options which are completely incorrect. Sometimes, though, because of the great variety in English as it is actually used, two options are 'correct' (to some extent, in some varieties of English), but there's a difference in formality/informality, context, emphasis or (as here) rate of usage. As a result, the 'best' answer will be the one which fits the formality/informality, context etc. The 'best' answer here is 'to act' (you know that, you said that yourself), which means that whether 'acting' is 'correct' or 'appropriate' is not relevant.

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  • I appreciate this entry, but it does not seem to answer the question (other than by allusion to other comments and answers) why the correct (or "best") answer is to act and also why it is not acting. This entry seems much like a comment to me. IOW, by what criteria is to act judged to be the best (or correct) answer and by what criteria does acting and the other choices not meet that criteria? Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 5:07
  • correct = actual usage
    – Sydney
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 14:10
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#1 may be acceptable, and even grammatically justifiable, but only to a very few readers, none of whom are employed by the ETS®. This is germane because, as another answer points out, the question you cite is written under their aegis, and posed as: "Select the best answer to complete the sentence."

Your question is not so much about whether a given verb takes a particular form of complement, but about the appropriate use of a gerund, or participle, as an adjective. Not every verb's gerund is grammatical when used this way in every instance.

#4, the infinive to act, is the only proper answer, because, although the use of a verb as a gerund, participle, or adjective in English may seem "random" to a learning speaker, it is not, any more than is the assigning of gender in German.

Neal Whitman's Very Test provides an interesting method of assessing whether or not a given usage is grammatical.

Usage #1 seems to fail the Very Test.

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