It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman : GMAT Sentence Correction (SC)
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# It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman

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It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman [#permalink]

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03 Aug 2010, 12:27
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It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman species in their ability to learn behaviors from one another, or if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found.
A. if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found
B. if other animals were studied with as much depth they would exhibit similar patterns
C. would similar patterns be found in other animals if they were studied in as much depth
D. whether similar patterns would be exhibited in other animals that were studied with as much depth
E. whether other animals would exhibit similar patterns if they were studied in as much depth
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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05 Aug 2010, 08:52
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It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique...........or whether other animals would exhibit similar patterns --> parallel

It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman species in their ability to learn behaviors from one another, or if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found.

A. if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found - if, when awkward
B. if other animals were studied with as much depth they would exhibit similar patterns - passive
C. would similar patterns be found in other animals if they were studied in as much depth - awkward
D. whether similar patterns would be exhibited in other animals that were studied with as much depth - passive
E. whether other animals would exhibit similar patterns if they were studied in as much depth - CORRECT
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10 Aug 2010, 14:04
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I agree with seekmba and temp33-- the most efficient split on this one is "if" versus "whether." If you cut out the fat between the structure words you can see the parallel structure needed: "whether...or....whether." Parallelism is really powerful and one of the fastest ways to slice through a wordy question.

Additionally, the meaning difference between "whether" and "if" dictates you use "whether." This distinction definitely comes up on the exam. Here the parallelism helps you out but that clue might not always be present.

* "if" is used to expression a condition--Ex: I will catch a cold IF I don't wear my hat. (IF something happens--in this case me not wearing my hat-- a CONSEQUENCE will occur)

*"whether" is used to indicate alternatives--Ex: I don't know WHETHER I like that hat. (Either I like it or I don't)

In this case the correct answer contains both "if" and "whether." The condition ("if they were studied") has two possible consequences--the other animals may exhibit similar patterns, or they may not. These alternatives are correctly shown by the usage of "whether.")
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03 Aug 2010, 12:32
If your answer is the right one, then kindly explain that what is the antecedent of "they"? "They" can refer to "patterns" and can also refer to "chimpanzees". Thanks in advance.
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05 Aug 2010, 03:08
They clearly refer to other animals. This is a parallel construct, the independent clause with other animals continue with the conditional statement .. if they...
Also the pronouns refer generally to the noun closest to them. You have to understand what is being said in the sentence and then figure out if the pronoun refers to the closest noun or not
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05 Aug 2010, 09:19
IMO E...
parallelism.. whether chimpanzees ; whether other animals
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10 Aug 2010, 14:11
Oops almost forgot! Regarding the pronoun ambiguity Hussain15 mentioned--there is a little bit of wiggle room in terms of pronoun ambiguity on the GMAT. You want to stay as clear as possible, but here the power of parallelism not only dictates the structure of "whether chimpanzees...or whether other animals," but also points us in the right direction in terms of the antecedent for "they." "They" is in the subject position for its conditional clause ("THEY were studied")--the antecedent for "they" is also in the subject position ("OTHER ANIMALS would exhibit").
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Re: It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman [#permalink]

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12 Jun 2014, 08:04
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Re: It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman [#permalink]

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12 Jun 2014, 10:30
It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman species in their ability to learn behaviors from one another, or if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found.

whether chimpanzees are unique or whether .......
whether should be used to make both parts parallel.
So A, B, and C are out

D. whether similar patterns would be exhibited in other animals that were studied with as much depth - Incorrect. Parallelism issue and passive voice seems to indicate that similar patterns would be exhibited in other animals by someone.

E. whether other animals would exhibit similar patterns if they were studied in as much depth - Correct
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It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman [#permalink]

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It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman species in their ability to learn behaviors from one another, or if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found.

Split #1: Structure: It is unclear WHETHER ........... or WHETHER............
So, A, B, and C are out because they do not maintain parallel structure that is considered very important in GMAT. Please note that GMAT tests your logic and structure more than vocabulary.
A. if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found --> WRONG.
B. if other animals were studied with as much depth they would exhibit similar patterns --> WRONG.
C. would similar patterns be found in other animals if they were studied in as much depth --> WRONG.

Split #2: idiom: study in depth -OR- study with depth.
Definitely, the former is correct. It's awkward if you say "study something with depth".
Please note that: passive voice is NOT a true reason to eliminate options in GMAT. In fact, GMAT often tricks you by adding some subtle errors in active voice sentences.
D. whether similar patterns would be exhibited in other animals that were studied with as much depth --> WRONG.
E. whether other animals would exhibit similar patterns if they were studied in as much depth --> CORRECT.

Hope it helps.
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Re: It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman [#permalink]

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31 Oct 2014, 02:46
Indeed, the usage of if vs whether is key to solving this question.

if is used for a conditional sentence, whereas whether is used when the intent is to depict a choice, an alternative or a possibility.

An example:

If the currency depreciates, exports receive a boost.
– This sentence has a conditional event being narrated and hence, the usage of if is appropriate.

After two successive cycles of recession, the question is whether the economy will finally improve.
– This sentence expresses uncertainty vis-à-vis economy’s fate, with two possible outcomes: Economy may or may not improve.

By the way, while it is not the case in this sentence, a handy recommendation is that when deciding on the usage of if/whether after a verb (for example, is) or a preposition, the usage of whether is appropriate (the question is whether....).

p.s. Our book EducationAisle Sentence Correction Nirvana discusses if vs whether, their application and examples in significant detail. If you can PM you email-id, I can send you the corresponding section.
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Re: It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman [#permalink]

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28 Jan 2016, 01:05
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman [#permalink]

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30 Jan 2016, 07:58
Hussain15 wrote:
It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman species in their ability to learn behaviors from one another, or if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found.
A. if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found
B. if other animals were studied with as much depth they would exhibit similar patterns
C. would similar patterns be found in other animals if they were studied in as much depth
D. whether similar patterns would be exhibited in other animals that were studied with as much depth
E. whether other animals would exhibit similar patterns if they were studied in as much depth

Apart from "with as depth" d also have another problem.

the meaning presented by "animals that were studied" make no sense in this context. we need the meaing of "if they were..."
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Re: It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman [#permalink]

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01 Nov 2016, 00:54
Hussain15 wrote:
It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman species in their ability to learn behaviors from one another, or if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found.
A. if, when other animals are studied in as much depth, similar patterns would be found
B. if other animals were studied with as much depth they would exhibit similar patterns
C. would similar patterns be found in other animals if they were studied in as much depth
D. whether similar patterns would be exhibited in other animals that were studied with as much depth
E. whether other animals would exhibit similar patterns if they were studied in as much depth

I am not sure why in option E were is used, shouldn't it be are, what's the justification to use past conditional, especially when the non underlined portion in the presnt tense.
whether other animals would exhibit similar patterns if they were studied in as much depth
Re: It is unclear whether chimpanzees are unique among nonhuman   [#permalink] 01 Nov 2016, 00:54
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