What is the definition of dig? If someone begins to cut into a surface is it considered that they have dug something? if not, why not?

According to the following extract:

Mrs. Baker wanted to go ice fishing. She read several books on the subject, and finally, after purchasing all the necessary equipment, she went onto the ice. After positioning her comfortable stool, she started to make a circular cut in the ice. Frighteningly, from up above, a voice boomed: ‘There are no fish under the ice.’ Startled, Mrs. Baker moved farther down the ice, poured herself a large coffee, and began to cut yet another hole. Again, from the heavens, the voice boomed: ‘There are no fish under the ice.’ Mrs. Baker was now very concerned, so she moved way down to the opposite end of the ice, set up her stool, and began again to cut her ice-hole. The voice rang out once more: ‘There are no fish under the ice.’ Mrs. Baker stopped, looked upwards and said, ‘Is that you Lord?’ The voice replied, ‘No, this is the ice-rink manager.’

I found the above text in one of the past papers of the Kangaroo English competition. However, one of the questions baffled me. It asked how many holes Mrs. Baker had dug.

According to my knowledge of the English language, I put down that she had not dug any holes, as she had never completed the act of making the circular cut in the ice. However, they have put down that the correct answer is three. I assume that they counted every time Mrs. Baker started cutting a hole as her actually having dug it. However, I personally disagree with this, and my reasoning is stated above.

Can you please tell me whether my reasoning is correct?

And if it isn’t, can you please explain to me why it isn’t?

I also believe that the correct answer will also heavily depend upon the precise definition of the word dig. So can you also please inform me of the precise meaning of the word dig in the above context?


Can you please tell me whether my reasoning is correct?

You are right and the answer "3" is wrong – I like your thinking! You correctly point out that no fishing holes were dug. There were merely attempts at digging them.

The simple past perfect, like all simple forms of the verb, indicates a complete action from start to finish – the holes were never finished.

The question should have been "How many holes had Mrs. Baker been digging?"

The continuous form conveys an uncompleted action.

Source : Link , Question Author : Michalis Christofi , Answer Author : Greybeard

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