'unless you try not to' vs. 'unless you are trying not to'

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keepitreal

New member
May 15, 2021
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I teach English at a high school in Korea. I taught the following text during class.

So the students already know what goes in the underlined (A) and (B) in English.

Then, on the mid-term exam, I asked the students to use the words given to translate the underlined Korean words into English.

Our addiction to criticizing others is a huge block to effectively giving feedback.
When we criticize, even if we choose our words with care, we are likely to assign others to a specific, potentially harmful, status.
We are likely to assign others, for instance, to the status of being “wrong.” No one likes to be labeled “wrong.”
Most people get defensive when they are labeled, even when sure they are not “wrong.”
And what’s more important, defensive people block messages.
(A) 만약 여러분이 (남들로부터) 이해받지 않으려고 애쓰는 것이 아니라면, then, (B) 비판은 효과적인 의사소통 전략이 아니다.
And it doesn’t help to call it “constructive” either.
Saying something like, “I’m telling you this for your own development, your design is all wrong” isn’t going to produce positive results.
Criticism is criticism. It blocks understanding.

<Words given>
(A) unless, you, try, not, understand
(B) communication, criticism, be, not, effective, strategy


< Correct Answers >

(A) Unless you are trying not to be understood

(B) criticism is not an effective communication strategy


So, if you put it together, the correct answer is:

Unless you are trying not to be understood, then, criticism is not an effective communication strategy.



But as their answer for (A), a few students wrote,

Unless you try not to be understood

My questions are:

(1) Is this grammatically correct?

(2) Does this make sense?

(3) Do the following sentences mean exactly the same?

- Unless you are trying not to be understood, then, criticism is not an effective communication strategy.
- Unless you try not to be understood, then, criticism is not an effective communication strategy.

I would appreciate answers from English teachers.
 
Last edited:

englishgeek

Active member
Sep 23, 2020
521
103
43
1) Possibly correct, but it doesn't sound great.

2) I think you would get what they are saying, but it doesn't sound natural. I am a bit tired now, so I can't give an exact reason why.

If you do an exact phrase search in Google for both phrases, you find some mentions of "Unless you are trying not to be understood" but not "Unless you try not to be understood", including the book where the quote probably comes from and some Korean sites which probably discuss the question. It's perhaps kind of an awkward sentence anyway.