Scientific English as a Foreign Language
Answers to Lesson of December 4, 1998
Quiz Question

What is the difference between the sentences below? Try rewriting them to better distinguish between them.

A small change in word order modifies these sentences a lot. Sentence A implys that an assumption has been made and that it was decided that the particular frequency was the correct one to choose. "Was used" is here the passive verb form of "to use". In sentence B, the "used" refers to the resonant frequency that was employed, and that there are no doubts as to the appropriateness of the choice. "Was" is the verb, in past tense. The sentences could be written as--

A mathematician and a physicist agree to a psychological experiment. The mathematician is put in a chair in a large empty room and a beautiful naked woman is placed on a bed at the other end of the room. The psychologist explains, "You are to remain in your chair. Every five minutes, I will move your chair to a position halfway between its current location and the woman on the bed." The mathematician looks at the psychologist in disgust. "What? I'm not going to go through this. You know I'll never reach the bed!" And he gets up and storms out. The psychologist makes a note on his clipboard and ushers the physicist in. He explains the situation, and the physicist's eyes light up and he starts drooling. The psychologist is a bit confused. "Don't you realize that you'll never reach her?" The physicist smiles and replied, "Of course! But I'll get close enough for all practical purposes!"

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Created December 4, 1998, by Nancy Burnham and Fred Hutson.