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Ready by when?

This Quiz offers you another, extended chance to practise expressions of the extent of time, and of deadlines.

There used to be (and maybe, still is) a British children's hiding game where the challenger calls out 'ready by 100?' and then starts counting. We hope it won't take you that long to work your way through these Questions!

  1. Choose the answer that completes the sentence in the most accurate and suitable English.
    'I shall need that book again ... ... early September for next year's teaching, so you can borrow it ... ... the end of August.'
    Plenty of good time-link words on offer here, but only Answer 3 matches perfectly in both blanks.
  2. Which is the only UNACCEPTABLE way of phrasing this idea?
    'The cricket match was so close and tense; and, what with interruptions for breaks in the weather, play did not finish ... ... '
    If it still wasn't over by 6 o'clock, and did not finish beyond that either, we can have no idea quite how long it did continue. At least with the other Answers we know that they were still playing at 6 o'clock, but there is the implicit assumption that they finished the match sometime after that.
  3. Choose the answer that completes the sentence in the most accurate and suitable English.
    She was a very successful actress ... ... the Noughties, ... ... she met a partner who introduced her to several too many bad habits, her looks and punctuality began to suffer, and producers ... ... queued up to offer her parts in their films and shows.
    All the '1st-blank' answers are good except at No.4; 'but' (Answer 3) is a good clear conjunction with much the same force, here, as 'until'; but only Answer 2 is acceptable for the 3rd blank ~ and indeed, all through.
    'The Noughties' is a fairly commonly accepted nickname for the first decade of the 21st (or indeed any) century: you will probably be used to such usages as 'the fifties' (ie the 1950s) and 'eighties hairstyles' (eg of HRH Princess Diana during the 1980s). There was then, though, a bit of a gap in English: what should we call the decade whose last-but-one number was a zero? (ie, 2000-2009.) The word 'noughties' suggested itself, possibly by transference from the 'naughty nineties' (originally, the 1890s ~ believe that or not!), and with the inbuilt pun on 'nought' ( = '0') and 'naughty' (ie characterised by bad or risky behaviour).
    Meanwhile, Oxford University numbers the weeks of its working terms from First Week to Eighth Week, but the preparatory week when the students arrive and get themselves organised is known administratively as Noughth Week.
  4. Which of these versions does NOT 'belong'?
    'If these tough financial times continue, he won't be able to pay off that loan ... ... '
    Answer 3 is different, because it suggests that once the man retires, he WILL be able to pay back the money (perhaps out of a 'lump sum' when he begins to draw his pension); the others each imply that he will have to continue paying, even once his pension becomes his only income (rather than out of earnings).
  5. Which is the LEAST similar, and LEAST good or accurate, of the following versions?
    'I went straight to the repair shop at the start of my lunch-hour, and the man said my job would be ready ... ... '
    Answer 4 is 'neither quite one thing, nor the other'!
  6. Choose the answer that completes the sentence in the most accurate and suitable English.
    'Due to essential maintenance works, the company's IT system will be out of action temporarily, ... ... approximately 30 hours ... ... the weekend beginning Saturday 1 April.'
    Actions last FOR a length of time and DURING a wider timespan. All the 'wrong' first-blank Answers would probably be understood, but none of them is good accurate English; we can say 'at' or 'over' the weekend (or even, in American English, 'on the weekend'), but we would only usually do this with the very next weekend coming up. One that were further into the future, and dated as such, would more likely be introduced by 'during'.
  7. Choose the answer that completes the sentence in the most accurate and suitable English.
    ' ... ... he fetches the umbrella from the car, this heavy shower of rain will probably have blown over.'
    Answer 2 does the best job of linking the two ideas in the time-perspective that the speaker fairly clearly means; 'when ... ' (Answer 1) does not make this so clear or ironic, Answer 3 is a good try but not grammatical, and 'during ...' (Answer 4) can only come in front of a noun or noun-group, but not a clause with a verb in it. ('During the performance', but 'while she was performing'.)
  8. To begin with: which ONE of these versions is NOT an acceptable way of expressing this in English?
    Answer 3 is a great deal less clear or natural than any of the other versions.
  9. Choose the answer that completes the sentence in the most accurate and suitable English.
    ~ And finally, the wording from the signboard wherever you come to a road or pedestrian crossing over a railway in Britain:
    'STOP LOOK and LISTEN ... ... CROSSING THE LINE'!
    Answer 3 is the standard, familiar version.
    Answer 1 would suggest you then cease observing, at the very moment you move into potential danger; hardly very sensible! Likewise, Answer 2 suggests stopping at some point during your crossing, which is surely even more dangerous; checking afterwards (Answer 4) is all very well, yet surely somewhat pointless?
  10. Choose the answer that completes the sentence in the most accurate and suitable English.
    If he studies the subject at that university, he should complete his course ...
    Things are completed 'in' (such and such a) time in English; or, for greater emphasis on the speed and deadline, we can also say 'within'.

Author: Ian Miles

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