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doubt regd the usage of 'which'

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doubt regd the usage of 'which' [#permalink] New post 02 Sep 2004, 22:58
I have a doubt regd the usage of which.
In the following two examples -

119. Executives and federal officials say that the use of crack and cocaine is growing rapidly among workers, significantly compounding the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, which already are a cost to business of more than $100 billion a year.

(A) significantly compounding the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, which already are a cost to business of
(B) significantly compounding the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, which already cost business
(C) significantly compounding the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, already with business costs of
(D) significant in compounding the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, and already costing business
(E) significant in compounding the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, and already costs business

The OA for the question 18 is D. In this sentence 'which' refers to the steel service centers (Please correct me if i am wrong). In the 'Officials of steel service centers' , 'of steel service centers' is a prepositional phrase.

Now in the question 119, the OA is B. Here 'which' refers to the 'effects' and not to 'drug and alcohol abuse', the object of preposition 'of'.

If we have a sentence like '..... X of Y, which....' , we sometimes say that which clearly refers to y or to X.

So, when we need to make a decision regarding what 'which' refers to, we need to consider both X and Y and see what makes sense. If only one make any sense then there is a clear reference. Else, there is an ambiguity. Is this the way we decide about pronoun refernce for 'which'.

I hope that i am able to express my doubt

:(

Can anyone please clarify.

Thanks.
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 [#permalink] New post 03 Sep 2004, 20:25
Quote:
Now in the question 119, the OA is B. Here 'which' refers to the 'effects' and not to 'drug and alcohol abuse', the object of preposition 'of'
.

I believe the 'which' refers to drug and alcohol abuse, which already costs 100's of billions of dollars.
The statement implies that the compounding of the effects is going to cost more.

Hope that helps.
-vamsi.
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 [#permalink] New post 03 Sep 2004, 21:55
You might want to read some of my explanations in this link regarding the use of noun + of + noun
http://www.gmatclub.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=8925

Regarding your question, this is what "which" would refer to:
119- the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, which already cost business more than $100 billion a year --> what cost business that much money? Is it the "effects" or "drug and alcohol abuse"? "effects" as a stand alone noun has no impact on the cost to business. Instead, it is the drug and alcohol abuse which do so. Hence, "which" would refer to the latter

118- Officials of steel service centers, which buy steel from large mills and cut and shape... --> who buys the steel and cut and shape it? The officials or the steel service centers themselves? Obviously again, it is the steel service centers who can perform that series of acts. "which" would then refer to the latter.

Ex: The swarm of flies, which was very dense, flew down the meadows.

In my example, it is not the flies which are dense but rather, the swarm. "which" would then refer to X in your interpretation of X of Y.

In conclusion, what "which" refers to in "X of Y" depends on the sentence structure so it is not anything etched in stone. Sometimes it refers to X, other times to Y. You have to be careful in selecting the proper referent. Please read my explanation in the link I gave you and it will provide you some clarification as to how to pinpoint the subtleties in the use of "X of Y"
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Paul

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 [#permalink] New post 03 Sep 2004, 22:39
Thanks a lot Paul for this very clear explanation. The examples you mentioned to explain the concepts are just too good.
I was thinking that 'which' in sentence 118 refers to 'effects' and i now understand that it doesn't make any sense. :)
  [#permalink] 03 Sep 2004, 22:39
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