"Did you telephone the manager’s office?"

Please have a look at this:

X: Did you telephone the manager’s office?
Y: Yes. He _______ back by noon .
A. was expected B. expected C. is expecting D. is expected

=> Which one is correct? I think D is. The question is about an action in the past, but I think it’s more natural for X to say ‘he’s expected to…’ instead of ‘he was expect to…’

By the way, I usually see people use ‘he’s expected to be back soon’, so is it all right not to use ‘to be’ here?

Many thanks,

Hi Nessie

It’s quite natural to say “He is expected back by noon”. You can also say “expected to be back”, if you like.

I suppose either option A or option D could be correct, but without any additional context, D seems more likely to me.

I find questions like this confusing.
If it’s already 2 pm, then “was expected” is the only one that makes sense.
If it’s still 11 am, then “is expected” makes sense too.

I hate having to guess what the question-maker had in mind.

However, since it’s reported speech, which can always back shift, I completely agree with Amy that “was” is more likely.

Hi Barb,
You agree with Amy? but Amy said D was more likely :open_mouth:

Sorry, I misread. I though Amy said “was” is more likely. If forced to choose, I would pick “was” because if it is now after noon, then the “is” sounds weird and if it’s still before noon, the back shifted tense of reported speech makes “was” work then, too. But either A or D is grammatical, so it’s a flawed question.

Hi Nessie

Here is the way I looked at your mini-conversation.

The reason I liked the present tense a little better is that Speaker Y simply seemed to be stating a current fact – a fact that they had been given when they called. Of course, this also assumes that the call was made prior to noon, that it is now still before noon, and that the manager is not yet there. The sentence states a currently valid fact.
I suppose the use of the past tense seemed a little less likely to me because it seems to make two very different interpretations possible:

  1. The call was made before noon, but speaker Y used “reported speech” (i.e. shifted tenses) to report what had been said.

  2. The call was made after noon, the manager still was not there, and speaker Y is basically reporting verbatim the information he/she was given – i.e. “He was expected back before noon”. However, if this were the case, I would not expect the conversation to end where it does. I’d expect a little bit more. Perhaps something like this:
    “He was expected back before noon. But he had to deal with a few additional issues, so he won’t be in until 3 at the earliest”.

I agree with Barb that this is a poorly written exercise if you are expected to choose only one answer. There isn’t enough context.