English as a Second Language/Verb forms


Are the following sentences equally acceptable?

a) The hostages were murdered by their captors before they could be rescued.
b) The hostages were murdered by their captors before they were be rescued.
c) The hostages were murdered by their captors before being rescued.

My guess is that a) is perfectly acceptable, but b) is a little odd.  Thank you in advance.

Grammatically they are all correct.

However, C is nonsensical as it means the hostages were murdered AND THEN they were rescued. (you can't rescue someone who is already murdered)

A means that whether or not the captors were going to be rescued is uncertain, but it is/was possible that they were going to be rescued.

B means that the captors were CERTAINLY going to be rescued, but they were murdered, so in the end they were not rescued.

Hope that helps!

English as a Second Language

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Brian Connelly


I can answer pretty much any question a student might have about English; about grammar, vocabulary, meanings of words, phrases, expressions or idioms, pronunciation, etc. I can answer questions about how to learn or study English better, how to improve certain aspects of communication (listening, writing, speaking, etc), about why we have certain rules.


I've been teaching English in Japan, mainly as a private (one-to-one) teacher, but also at companies such as Universal Studios or international airports. I have taught professional interpreters and translators and I have also taught students who dropped out of high school and never learned any English. Several years ago I acquired the CELTA and I have been running my own classroom for the past year.

None in particular, but I work with a number of companies who regularly introduce me to new students and occasionally to other companies that are looking for English teachers.


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I currently have approximately 40 individual students with whom I work one on one. I have also worked with local manufacturing companies, colleges, local retailers, as well as Sharp, Universal Studios, Itami International Airport, Kobe International Airport

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