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Judging Sentence Difficulty

For each pair of sentences below, click on the letter (A or B) of the sentence that you think would be EASIER for a deaf student to interpret correctly. In order to make your choice, you must consider factors associated with determining the logical subject of an infinitive. If you think that the two sentences might be equal in difficulty, click on the word "EQUAL."

1. A. The hardware technician asked the inspector to change the procedure.
    B. The hardware technician asked the inspector what to change.
    EQUAL
A: CORRECT! Sentence A should be easier because it follows the 'closeness principle' (see the section on Research Findings and Implications). A. The hardware technician asked the inspector to change the procedure. B. The hardware technician asked the inspector what to change.
B: INCORRECT.
EQUAL: INCORRECT.

2. A. The inspector told the maintenance crew what to do with the broken parts.
    B. The inspector was told by the maintenance crew to throw away the broken parts.
    EQUAL
A: CORRECT! Sentence A should be easier because it follows the 'closeness principle.' A. The inspector told the maintenance crew what to do with the broken parts. B. The inspector was told by the maintenance crew to throw away the broken parts.
B: INCORRECT.
EQUAL: INCORRECT

3. A. The circuit designer promised the division head to design a new circuit.
    B. The circuit designer persuaded the division head to design a new circuit.
    EQUAL
A: INCORRECT
B: CORRECT! Sentence B should be easier because it follows the 'closeness principle.' A. The circuit designer promised the division head to design a new circuit. B. The circuit designer persuaded the division head to design a new circuit.
EQUAL: INCORRECT

4. A. The project manager forced the engineer to abandon the project.
    B. The project manager encouraged the engineer to abandon the project.
    EQUAL
A: INCORRECT.
B: INCORRECT.
EQUAL: CORRECT! Both sentences follow the 'closeness principle.' A. The project manager forced the engineer to abandon the project. B. The project manager encouraged the engineer to abandon the project.

5. A. The applications analyst asked to resign from the team.
    B. The applications analyst asked the technician to resign from the team.
    EQUAL
A: INCORRECT
B: CORRECT! Sentence B should be easier. Although both sentences appear to conform to the 'closeness principle,' there is confusion about the verb ask with its different meanings. In sentence A, ask means 'request permission.' Sentence B reflects the more frequent structure and meaning ('request action'). A. The applications analyst asked to resign from the team. B. The applications analyst asked the technician to resign from the team.
EQUAL: INCORRECT!

6. A. The technical writer was asked by the engineer where to leave the figures.
    B. The technical writer was asked where to leave the figures.
    EQUAL
A: CORRECT! Although both sentences are passive, sentence A should be easier because it contains an explicit noun phrase to serve as logical subject. The logical subject for sentence B must be inferred from context.A. The technical writer was asked by the engineer where to leave the figures.B. The technical writer was asked where to leave the figures.
B: INCORRECT
EQUAL: INCORRECT!

7. A. The systems programmer was allowed to lead the effort.
    B. The systems programmer was chosen to lead the effort.
    EQUAL
A: INCORRECT.
B: CORRECT! Sentence B should be easier because it contains an explicit noun phrase to serve as subject of the infinitive.
The logical subject for sentence A must be inferred from context. A. The product manager said to attend every meeting.
B. The product manager said for all employees to attend every meeting.
EQUAL: INCORRECT.

8. A. The product manager said to attend every meeting.
    B. The product manager said for all employees to attend every meeting.
    EQUAL
A: INCORRECT.
B: CORRECT! Sentence B should be easier because it contains an explicit noun phrase to serve as subject of the infinitive.
The logical subject for sentence A must be inferred from context. A. The product manager said to attend every meeting.
B. The product manager said for all employees to attend every meeting.
EQUAL: INCORRECT.

9. A. The engineer explained how to replace the motherboard.
    B. The engineer demonstrated how to replace the motherboard.
    EQUAL
A: INCORRECT.
B: INCORRECT.
EQUAL: CORRECT! Both sentences should be equal in difficulty. In both, the logical subject must be inferred from context. A. The engineer explained how to replace the motherboard. B. The engineer demonstrated how to replace the motherboard.

10. A. The researcher was told where to go.
      B. The researcher was asked where to go.
      EQUAL
A: CORRECT! Sentence A should be easier. Although both sentences are passive, sentence A contains an explicit noun phrase to serve as the logical subject of the infinitive. Sentence B does not.A. The researcher was told where to go.B. The researcher was asked where to go.
B: INCORRECT.
EQUAL: INCORRECT