Welcome to
ESL Printables, the website where English Language teachers exchange resources: worksheets, lesson plans,  activities, etc.
Our collection is growing every day with the help of many teachers. If you want to download you have to send your own contributions.





ESL Forum:

Techniques and methods in Language Teaching

Games, activities and teaching ideas

Grammar and Linguistics

Teaching material

Concerning worksheets

Concerning powerpoints

Concerning online exercises

Make suggestions, report errors

Ask for help

Message board


ESL forum > Ask for help > a complicated one...    

a complicated one...


a complicated one...
Hi everybody, it has been too long since i shared smt with you, sorry about that....Btw  I ´m really curious about getting your precious comments on a question asked in a high school placement test in Turkey. As most of you are native, please share your ideas with me by not only taking into account grammatical correctness but also other considerations. Here we go ;
 Mary Sanders was a successful artist.Before she died,_____

A) she should do practice
B) she had better take photos
C) she has won several awards
D) she could draw many pictures 
Thank you :)  

30 Apr 2015      

United States

It ´s unfortunate that this is on a test, since the only correct answer is not very good. a, b and c are grammatically wrong. Answer d is correct, but is not worded in a way people would say it.

Anyway, the only correct answer is d.

Many people might pick answer c, but the present perfect isn ´t correct for an action before another action (died) in the past. The past perfect would have worked, but that isn ´t offered.

30 Apr 2015     


I agree with Bruce, but I would go so far as to say none of them are really correct. 
I think that perhaps a typo might have occurred in "c" since it would have actually been the correct answer if it was: she had won several  awards.

30 Apr 2015     

United States

That ´s a good point, Linda, since answer C gives a reason for the word "successful" in the first sentence.

I maintain that D is grammatically correct, remembering that "could" is the simple past of "can", so it says that before she died she was able to draw pictures. That makes the question even more unfortunate if answer C was a misprint.

30 Apr 2015     


Since this question was prepared by a non-native Turkish teacher, no unfortunately it ´s not a typo.
They asked the question  in the nationwide High School Entrance Examination in Turkey.

1 May 2015     


But Bruce if you say "she could draw many picture" you are saying that she had the ability but not that she actually drew pictures.

I think all of them are incorrect.

1 May 2015     

Peter Hardy

No, Mariec, in fact, none of them is correct. Answers A and B are about giving advice in the present or the future. Yes, B too, despite the use the past tense of have.

But we need to remember the poor lady died, so whatever happened is at a point in the past before another event in the past (her dying). Hence, a past perfect would be the only right structure.

Having said this, ´could ´ as a past tense of can and not as a possibility, may be interpreted as "She had been able to draw many pictures."  Sadly, exams don ´t ask for interpretations. A corrected answer C) "She had won several awards" would be the only answer that makes sense. However, it ´s not there, so as it stands, none of the answers makes any sense.

Can you guys, Source or Serzt, tell us the ´official ´ answer? It would be interesting to see what the examiner thought.
Talking about thoughts: Worksheets with mistakes are annoying, but I always remind myself that those who make no mistakes, make nothing.  Expensive textbooks with mistakes are more annoying. But tests and exams that determine students ´ futures should be flawless.
Cheers, Peter 

1 May 2015     

United States

OK, maybe it ´s only in the US, but we use the simple past before the simple past.

 For example, we say things like, "Before I broke my hand I was able to (or could) play the piano."

Apparently this isn ´t true in the rest of the world, so I ´ll retire my argument on this one.
Yes, "could" means she had the ability, but that doesn ´t mean that she didn ´t actually draw any pictures.

1 May 2015     

United Kingdom

´Before she died, she could draw many pictures... ´ This reminds me of a little exchange which happened to me when I was a student. I had to read my essay out to the group and I was a bit nervous. Anyway, I set off: Pirandello, in his lifetime, wrote many plays about... ´ The lecturer interrupted me and said, ´As opposed to after he died? ´ 

1 May 2015     

United States

I  agree with Bruce. Although no one would say it like that probably, in American English it sounds correct to me grammatically, and could can mean that she completed drawings as well as had the ability to draw them.
Before she died, she could publish several papers and her dream book.

1 May 2015     


The official answer is ´d ´. This question was obviously asked to check students ´ awareness of the present and the past tenses.Yes,option ´d ´ may not be the best answer to complete the sentence but is the right one here to choose.There is no way to complete this sentence with a present tense.

1 May 2015     

1    2    3    Next >