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English Exam

While teaching high school seniors yesterday, I came across this exam question in a textbook. It is one of the typical types of questions for English exams here -- that you have to fill in the blanks so that the two sentences will have almost the same meaning. Try it for fun. ;)

I will give you this book as a birthday present. = You (   )(   ) this book as a birthday present.


You gave me this book as a birthday present.

That's my answer :p

"You (will receive) (from me) this book as a birthday present."

Grammatically correctly. Stylistically awkward. First, the direct object (this book) should follow directly after the verb. Second. Although, not as frequently as in Japanese, if part of the sentence is understood, it doesn't need to be restated. If I said, "You will receive this book as a birthday present." then it's understod I mean, from me. I'd only add the indirect object to clarify an ambiguity. You will receive this book as a birthday present from your grandmother.

It seems that this is a better question for a Japanese test where the distinction between giving and receiving is emphasized with different words. In American conversational English, we tend make the distinction by reversing the subject and indirect object. "A: I will give you this book. B: You will give me this book." Although the meaning of both sentences is the same, the speaker is not. The giver must say the first sentence and the receiver must say the second sentence, or the meaning changes. So I don't think that this is what the test-makers are looking for.

"Received" sounds more formal, more appropriate for written English. "The university received a $10,000 gift from an unknown benefactor."

After all my digression, I'm really interested in knowing the "correct" answer.

Eeek! Did I really type "grammatically correctly"? This is what comes of waking up at 5 in the morning with a splitting rain headache and trying to write before drinking coffee.

I came up with the same answer as M.

Casually, though, I'd say,

"You're getting this book as a birthday present."

I think the "I will give" form sounds a bit hokey, as it seems we generally use the present continuous where there's some volition on the part of the speaker.

-Jason (recovering grammer nazi)

Oooh. Grammar nazi. Love it.

Doesn't "You're getting this book as a birthday present." sound more like a threat than a promise? I'm sure it would depend on context, but if I said it to my kid, I'm sure he'd respond with something like, "But what about that DVD I wanted?"

Augh. I just realized that while the casual statement I gave might be okay, it's not because of the provided explanation.

And I also spelled grammar wrong. Sigh - my turn to correct my errors (though I got up at 5:25 and had had my coffee.)

Yeah, it is a bit of a threat isn't it? While I was writing it, I imagined my mother saying it, "you're getting this book as a present whether you like it or not!"