flu <is; was> going on

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Stieizc

Senior Member
Chinese
I saw this sentence in my test sheet:
1. Due to a terrible flu that is going on, many students didn't show up to school yesterday.

I think the speaker implies that the flu was still going on when he was speaking.
What does this sentence imply?
2. Due to a terrible flu that was going on, many students didn't show up to school yesterday.
 
  • Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    If the sentence were 'implying' that the outbreak was still extant (i.e. persisting), I would expect to read: "due to an on-going flu". As it stands, the sentence seems very poorly written - or at least highly colloquial.
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Both, in my view:

    1. "Due to a terrible flu that is going on, many students didn't show up to school yesterday." :cross: ~ Due to an on-going flu, many students didn't show up to school yesterday.

    2. "Due to a terrible flu that was going on, many students didn't show up to school yesterday." :cross: ~ Due to an on-going flu, many students didn't show up to school yesterday.

    These sentences (above) suffer from a number of stylistic deficiencies, but I will only address my attention to underlined parts:

    -To the best of my knowledge 'flu' does not 'go on' - at least not in my variant of English.
    -The expression 'to go on', in this sort of context, is usually (but not exclusively) colloquial at best, and quite often, simply bad English. (probably best avoided)
    -It seems highly improbable that the flu, given its severity (terrible) suddenly disappeared over night - so it's hard to make sense of them.

    So let's try a better example (although the 'to go on' form is in my view still best avoided):

    1."Due to the train strike that is going on, many students didn't show up to school last week." = Due to the on-going train strike, many students didn't show up to school last week.

    Here, it is clear that the trains are not running at the time of utterance. (what you have to the right of the '=' , is how I would expect to read it)
    ~~~~~~~

    2."Due to the train strike that was going on, many students didn't show up to school last week." = Due to the train strike, many students didn't show up to school last week.

    Here it is ambiguous as to whether the trains are running (or not) at the time of utterance (although the strike was clearly 'on' for some or all the week prior to the time of utterance). Which is to say that, yes it was 'going on', but that it may still be 'going on'. (what you have to the right of the '=' , is how I would expect to read it)


    Apologies for confusing you in post#2 :)
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I agree with Beryl, and would only add 1. Due to a terrible flu that is going around, many students didn't show up to school yesterday.

    to go around = to circulate; to move within an area.

    To go around can be treated as a phrasal verb
     

    Beryl from Northallerton

    Senior Member
    British English
    Wow! Thank you for your exhaustive reply! I understand now.
    It was far from exhaustive...but I'm glad you understand :)


    Now that you mentioned it, Beryl, what's a style of a sentence? I've heard it for some times and couldn't get what it means.
    Well, that's a very far ranging but nevertheless deeply interesting question, which if you truly want answered, I suggest you pose in a separate thread. For the purposes of illustration only I will re-write sentence #1. to give you an idea of what I meant by stylistic deficiencies:

    1. "Due to a terrible flu that is going on, many students didn't show up to school yesterday."

    1'. "Numerous students failed to attend school yesterday as a result of an odious outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of influenza which continues unabated" - style: 'wordy'

    1''. "Many students were off sick yesterday with this nasty on-going flu. - style: 'less-wordy'
     

    Stieizc

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Good to know, Paul!
    1. "Due to a terrible flu that is going on, many students didn't show up to school yesterday."
    1'. "Numerous students failed to attend school yesterday as a result of an odious outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of influenza which continues unabated" - style: 'wordy'
    1''. "Many students were off sick yesterday with this nasty on-going flu. - style: 'less-wordy'
    Ha ha... So the original is neither 'wordy' nor 'less-wordy', and therefore it lacks style. Well, it seems that I still need time to fully understand this. Thank you, Beryl!
     
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