I've been having problems with English grammar. For instance I find these questions (picked from "error detection" tests) are beyond me. Please help.
1. Scientists search for the places where prehistoric people might live.
The answer sheet says live is wrong, I don't know why.
2. For instance, some fish lay thousands of eggs at a time, most of them are eaten.
The answer sheet says them is wrong, and I don't know why.
3. According to one theory, the more offspring an animal species produces, the great will be the chance that the species can survive.
I think great is wrong and it should be changed into greater to make up a balanced structure with "the more"; but the answer sheet tells me that the wrong answer is that. I am really confused.
4. Edmund King said the study showed that "not only the loud music is a nuisance to others, it could also be the cause of accidents."
The answer sheet says "is" is wrong, and I don't know why.
The first sentence, Shirlie, should read: Scientists search for the places where prehistoric people might have lived.
"Have lived" instead of "live" in the present tense because it is a subjunctive. It's a conditional sentence. It describes a situation that does not or could not exist, i.e. in the present case, the existence of the said historic people is possible but doubtful. Whenever something is talked about as a possibility rather than a fact, the subjunctive mood is used.
The Chinese language doesn't make grammatical fusses like that, but this is the very lesson I want to share with you today. English grammar doesn't always make perfect sense to a Chinese learner. That's the way it is. Don't question it. Just accept it.
The second sentence should read: For instance, some fish lay thousands of eggs at a time, most of which are eaten.
The answer sheet says them is wrong, and you don't know why. It's ok. Don't ask why. Just accept it – Meet sentences like this often and soon you will know why. For the time being, accept it. Don't try to reconcile it with your clear Chinese grammatical conscience. That's wasted energy. Use the energy instead on further acquainting yourself with curious and questionable sentences like that.
The fourth sentence should read: Edmund King said the study showed that "not only is the loud music a nuisance to others, it could also be the cause of accidents."
"Is" is placed before "loud music" instead of after. Whenever "not only" is used to begin a sentence, the verb follows immediately. That's just the way it is. Again, don't wrestle with it. Accept it.
As for the third sentence, the only thing I can say is that I'm confused too, like you are. However, unlike you, I won't lose any sleep over it. I accept that sometimes tests are stupid, teachers make mistakes and answer sheets give wrong answers.
And I move on.
Let's move on.