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Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier

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Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2012, 13:55
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NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS


Before we start discussing about the functions of noun + noun modifiers, let’s do a little warm up exercise here. Following are the three sentences. On the basis of the usage of modifier, identify which of the following are correct.

1. James created a magnificent design by using latest graphic design tools, a work acknowledged and appreciated by all investors.
2. James created a magnificent design by using latest graphic design tools, an experiment that many feared to do because of the instability in the output resulting from these tools.
3. James created a magnificent design by using latest graphic design tools, expensive but super helpful devices developed especially for minute detailing and elaboration.

NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS: CONFUSION


All the above mentioned “warm up” sentences are correct. Well, I would not be surprised to know that the answer surprised you. The modifier that all the three sentences have here follows the structure of noun + noun modifier. The usage of this modifier in all the above mentioned sentences is correct.

Image

1. James created a magnificent design by using latest graphic design tools, a work acknowledged and appreciated by all investors.
2. James created a magnificent design by using latest graphic design tools, an experiment that many feared to do because of the instability in the output resulting from these tools.
3. James created a magnificent design by using latest graphic design tools, expensive but super helpful devices developed especially for minute detailing and elaboration.

Noun + Noun modifiers are very versatile modifiers. Unlike the structure of other modifiers, their structure does not restrict their modification to a particular entity in the sentence. For example, verb-ed or verb-ing modifier without a preceding comma can only modify the preceding noun entity.

The noun + noun modifiers are very versatile because despite having a definite structure, they don’t modify an entity in a definite position in the sentence.
The noun + noun modifiers can modify the entire preceding clause, the preceding noun entity, or a noun in the middle of the sentence. The modification done by these modifiers is completely driven by the context of the sentence.

Image
This versatility of noun + noun modifiers to modify any aspect in a sentence makes them very complex and dreaded. The GMAT takers do possess some knowledge of such modifiers and their functions. However, this complex nature of noun + noun modifiers to be able to modify just about any aspect in a sentence leaves them confused as to how to identify which particular entity a noun + noun modifier is referring to in a particular sentence. Hence, they pray not to encounter these scary modifiers.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a noun + noun modifier must refer to only one entity in the sentence. If the modification leads to slightest of ambiguity, then the usage of this modifier will stand incorrect. Let’s understand this point through an example:

Image



In the above sentence, “a gift that was in her wish list from a very long time” is the noun + noun modifier.
a gift = noun
that was in her wish list from a very long time = noun modifier

Now, in this sentence, there are two equally strong contenders for the modification of this noun + noun modifier – iPhone 4S and iPad 3.

Image

Any one of them qualify to be in Kim’s wish list. The noun + noun modifier “a gift that…” will make sense with both the entities. Hence, in this sentence, there is ambiguity about the modification of noun + noun modifier. Hence use of this modifier here is incorrect.

We can rectify this error by saying:

Image

Image


In this sentence, noun + noun modifier has been replaced by relative pronoun clause. Relative pronoun “which” clearly refers to the preceding noun iPad 3, making it clear that this item was in Kim’s wish list for a very long time.
We can interchange the devices to denote which article was in Kim’s wish list for long.

Also, since the modification of noun + noun modifiers is completely context driven, a test taker may find it extremely difficult to identify the entity this modifier modifies in a sentence if he/she is unable to understand the intended logical meaning of the sentence.

PURPOSE OF THIS ARTICLE


This article is aimed at doing away with all the fears and confusions related to the usage of noun + noun modifiers. In this article, we will demonstrate how and in which scenarios, a Noun + Noun Modifier can be used to modify various entities in the preceding clause including the entire preceding clause itself. At the end of the article, we have also included a small quiz for you to check your understanding of this particular modifier.

NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS: FUNCTION


As already mentioned above, noun + noun modifiers are very versatile modifiers and can modify an entity in the sentence. This entity can be the immediate preceding noun, a noun in the middle of the preceding clause, or the entire preceding clause. The modification of noun + noun modifiers completely depends on the context of the sentence.
Let’s discuss the “warm up” sentences to see how they are correct and the noun + noun modifier in each sentence is modifying which entity in the sentence and why.

1. NOUN + NOUN MODIFIER: MODIFYING PRECEDING NOUN


Noun + Noun modifier can modify the immediate preceding noun entity if the context of the sentence demands so. Sentence 3 of the “warm up” exercise falls into this category.

SIMPLE EXAMPLE:

Noun + Noun modifier can modify the immediate preceding noun entity if the context of the sentence demands so. Sentence 3 of the “warm up” exercise falls into this category.

Image

This sentence means that James created an excellent design by using latest design tools. Then the modifier explains what kind of tool they are. They are expensive but helpful devices that are especially created for certain specific tasks.

In this sentence, “expensive but super helpful devices developed especially for minute detailing and elaboration” is the noun + noun modifier. Here,
expensive but super helpful devices = noun entity
developed especially for minute detailing and elaboration = noun modifier.

Notice that “developed” is the verb-ed modifier here that is modifying the preceding noun entity “expensive but super helpful devices”.

The noun “expensive but super helpful devices” can logically refer to the “latest graphic design tools”, because there is no other noun entity that it will make sense with. Now “design” is another noun in the sentence.
However, “design” cannot be classified as “tools”. Hence, logically this modification will not make sense.

Hence, per the context of the sentence, the noun + noun modifier (expensive but super helpful devices developed especially for minute detailing and elaboration) is modifying the preceding noun entity (latest graphic design tools) in this sentence because that is the only logical referent in the main clause.

Image

OFFICIAL EXAMPLE: OG 12#118 (with correct answer choice C)

Image

In order to understand the modification in this sentence, let us first understand the intended meaning of the sentence. The sentence says that The WWF has declared that global warming will create havoc among migratory birds. It will do so by changing the environment in such ways that will be harmful to their habitats. By the way, global warming is a phenomenon that most scientists agree is caused by burning of fossil fuels by humans.

In this sentence, “a phenomenon that most scientists agree is caused by human beings' burning of fossil fuels” is the noun + noun modifier.
a phenomenon = noun entity
that most scientists agree is caused by human beings' burning of fossil fuels = noun modifier

The noun modifier in this structure is a relative pronoun “that” clause. Here “that” refers to “a phenomenon”, the preceding noun.

So, logically what can be referred as “a phenomenon…” in this sentence? The WWF can certainly be not classified as “a phenomenon”. So this noun is ruled out.

Again, can “a phenomenon” be attributed to the action of declaring by the WWF? Certainly not because it does not make sense to say that the declaration is a phenomenon that most scientist agree is caused by a certain activity of humans. So this entity is also rejected.

Can “global warming” be called “a phenomenon” that most scientists agree is cause by humans? By all means, yes. It is the phenomenon that has cause by humans’ burning of fossil fuel.

Image


Hence, per the context of the sentence, the noun + noun modifier is actually talking about the preceding noun entity “global warming” in that it is giving additional information about global warming which a phenomenon, an incident. The noun + noun modifier is referring to the immediate preceding noun in this official sentence.

Image

2. NOUN + NOUN MODIFIER: MODIFYING NOUN IN MIDDLE


A noun + noun modifier can easily modify a noun entity in the middle of the preceding clause, provided the context of the sentence demands such modification. The versatility of this modifier allows it zoom into any entity of the preceding clause to modify it. Let’s understand this by examples.

SIMPLE EXAMPLE:
Sentence 2 of the “warm up” exercise falls into this category.

Image

As usual, let’s first get the meaning of this sentence. The sentence says that James created an excellent design, using latest graphic design tools. It was a work that was acknowledged and appreciated by all investors.

In this sentence, “a work acknowledged and appreciated by all investors” is the noun + noun modifier.
a work = noun entity acknowledged and appreciated by all investors = noun modifier (verb-ed modifier) that modifies the preceding noun.

Per the context, the noun entity “a work” must refer to refer to a logical entity. Now, the only logical entity to which “a work acknowledged…” can be logically attributed to is “a magnificent design”. This is the work that James did.

Now let’s ask, is it possible for this noun + noun modifier to refer to the preceding noun “latest graphic design tools”? Logically, no it’s not. “Tools” cannot be called “a work”. Their creation can be classified as work but “tools” themselves are not work.

So, per the logical context of the sentence, “a work acknowledged…” modifies a noun that appears somewhere in the middle of the preceding clause.

Image

OFFICIAL EXAMPLE: OG 12#48 (with correct answer choice B)

Image

Let’s take the first step. Let’s first understand the meaning of this sentence. The sentence says that in 1713, Pope started translating the Iliad. This work of translation took him seven years. Johnson pronounced this work the greatest translation in any language.

So as identified already, “a work... any language” is the noun + noun modifier in this sentence.
a work = noun entity
that took… any language = noun modifier (relative pronoun “that” clause modifier)

Image


There are two nouns before “a work” that this modifier can refer to – “translation” and “Iliad”. Let’s first analyze the modification with “translation”. It makes absolute sense for “a work” to refer to “translation” because translation is the work that Pope did and this is the work that took him seven years too. Also, it is the translation only that Johnson pronounced the greatest in any language.

Now let’s see if “a work” can refer to “Iliad”. Certainly not because Pope did not take seven years to finish Iliad. He took that long to translate Iliad. Also, Johnson did not call the Iliad the greatest translation. He called Iliad’s translation, done by Pope, the greatest in any language.

Hence, logically it makes sense for “a work,,, any language”, a noun + noun modifier to refer to “translation”, a noun entity somewhere in the middle of the preceding clause.

Image

3. NOUN + NOUN MODIFIER: MODIFYING PRECEDING CLAUSE


Another entity that a noun + noun modifier can refer to is the entire preceding clause, if the context demands such modification. In this case, the noun + noun modifier will not refer to any particular entity but to the subject and the verb of the preceding clause. Let’s see how.

SIMPLE EXAMPLE:

Sentence 2 of the “warm up” exercise falls into this classification.

Image

Let’s understand the meaning first. James created an excellent design, using latest graphic design tools. This creation of the design by using latest design tools was an experiment that many were scared to do because the results that were obtained by using these tools were not stable.

As already highlighted in green, “an experiment… these tools” is the noun + noun modifier.
an experiment = noun entity
that may… these tools = noun modifier (relative pronoun “that” clause modifier)

So let’s consider and analyze the possible entities this noun + noun modifier can refer to.

This noun + noun modifier cannot refer to the immediate preceding noun because “latest graphic design tools” are no experiment. They are tools, kind of devices used for certain activities. Hence, this modification is logically impossible.

What about a noun entity in the middle of the preceding clause – “design”? Well, same logic again. “Design” itself is not an experiment that many were afraid to do. Hence, this entity is rejected too.

However, it does make sense to for this modifier to modify the entire preceding clause because James’ creation of the design by using the graphic design tools was an experiment because of the reason stated in the sentence. Hence, per the context of the sentence, this noun + noun modifier refers to the entire preceding clause in this sentence.

Image

OFFICIAL EXAMPLE: OG 12#83 (with correct answer choice B)

Image

Performing the ritual, let’s first understand the meaning of this one. In 2000, just 24 products were responsible for increase in the money spent on prescriptions. There were two reasons for this incident:
a. drugs are becoming more expensive.
b. doctors are prescribing expensive drugs.

The green portion of the sentence is the noun + noun modifier.
a phenomenon = noun
“that is… high-cost drugs” = noun modifier (relative pronoun “that” clause modifier)

Is this modifier modifying the preceding noun? It cannot do so because logically “prescriptions drugs” is no phenomenon. They are products. Moreover, singular “a phenomenon” does not agree in number with plural “prescriptions drugs”.

Can it modify another noun entity “half the increase in spending”? Logically it cannot because this information fails to incorporate the fact that only 24 products are responsible for this increase. This increase is phenomenal because of the fact that it has been happened because of the sale of mere 24 drugs.

Hence, it makes sense for the noun + noun modifier in this sentence that to modify the entire preceding clause. This modification makes it clear why this increase is noteworthy. The noun modifiers present the reasons for this phenomenal increase in spending.

Image

A QUICK LOOK

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Last edited by egmat on 31 Jul 2013, 12:50, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2012, 17:44
Thanks for this awesomeness. This is probably the first of its kind and the best analysis I have seen on this topic. These modifiers always stumped me. But after going through this article, I no longer dread them. Keep up the good work
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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2012, 20:46
This topic is really informative...thanks for this
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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 14 Aug 2012, 21:43
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Awesome material ....It could really help to all non-native speaker ...
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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2012, 01:54
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Thank e gmat.
We wish to have more articles like this.
The article makes the matter simple and easy to understand and is close to Gmat SC.

one more I want to add.
we should say" noun+ noun modifier can modify the preceding noun or preceding noun phrase. If noun+noun modifier modifies the noun phrase, "noun+noun mdifier" is modifying the far noun. For more on this case, read the article " slightly far noun" writen also by e gmat.

Thank you e gmat .

We wish e gmat write more articles on CR section.
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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 15 Aug 2012, 08:06
Thanks Shraddha and team! Very informative and useful indeed. Kudos to you guys! :)
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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 16 Aug 2012, 19:55
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Really helpful discussion and appreciate a lot for such a wonderful contribution....
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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 18 Aug 2012, 03:42
Hi,

Thanks a lot for the topic. I solved these questions before but was not sure about the reasoning. After reading your articles, it is much more easier.

Request you to kindly provide the PDF version of the article.

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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 20 Aug 2012, 05:14
Hi,
Thank you for this topic. :-D

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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 20 Aug 2012, 07:58
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We are overwhelmed with the praise for this article. As a thank you we will soon be adding a free quiz.

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Re: Noun + Noun Modifiers: The most "versatile" modifier [#permalink] New post 20 Aug 2012, 08:54
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Hi Folks,
Here is the PDF for the article. The quiz is soon to follow.
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 24 Aug 2012, 10:33
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Hi Folks,

Try this official question (OG Verbal 2#100) to aee if you have understood the concept discussed in the article well.

Sixty-five million years ago, according to some scientists, an asteroid bigger than Mount Everest slammed into North America, which, causing plant and animal extinctions, marks the end of the geologic era known as the Cretaceous Period.

A. which, causing plant and animal extinctions, marks
B. which caused the plant and animal extinctions marking
C. and causing plant and animal extinctions that mark
D. an event that caused plant and animal extinctions, and it marks
E. an event that caused the plant and animal extinctions that mark

Thanks.
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 28 Aug 2012, 10:12
egmat wrote:
Hi Folks,

Try this official question (OG Verbal 2#100) to aee if you have understood the concept discussed in the article well.

Sixty-five million years ago, according to some scientists, an asteroid bigger than Mount Everest slammed into North America, which, causing plant and animal extinctions, marks the end of the geologic era known as the Cretaceous Period.

A. which, causing plant and animal extinctions, marks
B. which caused the plant and animal extinctions marking
C. and causing plant and animal extinctions that mark
D. an event that caused plant and animal extinctions, and it marks
E. an event that caused the plant and animal extinctions that mark

Thanks.
Shraddha


IMO, it should be E.
noun = "an event"
noun-modifier="that caused the plant and animal extinctions"
Here, the noun+noun-modifier is modifying the entire clause - the event of asteroid slamming into north america. Please let me know if I am right here?

Also, A and B uses "which", which makes it modify north america.
C uses "and" but does not have parallelism. D uses wrong tense - "marks".
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 28 Aug 2012, 11:18
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egmat wrote:
Hi Folks,

Try this official question (OG Verbal 2#100) to aee if you have understood the concept discussed in the article well.

Sixty-five million years ago, according to some scientists, an asteroid bigger than Mount Everest slammed into North America, which, causing plant and animal extinctions, marks the end of the geologic era known as the Cretaceous Period.

A. which, causing plant and animal extinctions, marks - Which has no clear sensical referent
B. which caused the plant and animal extinctions marking - Which has no clear sensical referent
C. and causing plant and animal extinctions that mark - Slammed ....and causing (Parallelism error)
D. an event that caused plant and animal extinctions, and it marks - It has no clear sensical referent.
E. an event that caused the plant and animal extinctions that mark - an event clearly modifies "an asteroid bigger than Mount Everest slammed into North America" + that clearly refers to plant & animal extinctions.

Thanks.
Shraddha


As per the meaning of the sentence - the event (asteroid slammed North America ) led to extinction of plant & animals and the extinction subsequently marked the end of era.
The correct answer in my opinion is E.
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 30 Aug 2012, 12:01
Thanks for the great article e-Gmat!

I've a couple of questions:

1)Can a relative pronoun, such as 'which', reach inside a compound noun ?
I am refering to the following example in this article -
On her birthday, Kim got from her parents an iPhone 4S and iPad 3, which was in her wish list from a very long time.

Here "iPhone 4S and iPad 3" is a compound noun. You mentioned that 'which' in this example correctly refers to iPad3. But don't we need a descriptive word such as 'latter' or 'former' in order to point to a noun inside a compound noun?
Something like -
On her birthday, Kim got from her parents an iPhone 4S and an iPad 3, latter of which was in her wish list for a very long time.

2) Just to clarify my understanding -
A) Noun+noun modifier that modifies preceding clause is an absolute phrase right?

B) And Noun+noun modifier that modifies either a preceding noun or a noun in the preceding clause is an appositive correct?
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 31 Aug 2012, 05:49
Thanks Shraddha. Found a question on Noun + Noun Modifier

Astronomers have theorized that the Big Bang governs the behavior of interstellar dust, particles that comprise the atoms and molecules created in the progenitive explosion and persisting in even the emptiest regions of space.
persisting
persists
persisted
they persist
are persisting

OA - A
Can you please explain why C is wrong. The explanation talks about parallelism but how is it possible to have present participle parallel to past participle.
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http://gmatclub.com/forum/massive-collection-of-verbal-questions-sc-rc-and-cr-106195.html#p832142
http://gmatclub.com/forum/1001-ds-questions-file-106193.html#p832133
http://gmatclub.com/forum/gmat-prep-critical-reasoning-collection-106783.html
http://gmatclub.com/forum/how-to-get-6-0-awa-my-guide-64327.html
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2012, 18:00
Another great Article eGMAT. I am on my 3rd week with eGMAT live prep, and I can say, in the last 3 weeks, I have learnt a lot more than I did in last 3 months.

egmat wrote:
Hi Folks,

Try this official question (OG Verbal 2#100) to aee if you have understood the concept discussed in the article well.

Sixty-five million years ago, according to some scientists, an asteroid bigger than Mount Everest slammed into North America, which, causing plant and animal extinctions, marks the end of the geologic era known as the Cretaceous Period.

A. which, causing plant and animal extinctions, marks
B. which caused the plant and animal extinctions marking
C. and causing plant and animal extinctions that mark
D. an event that caused plant and animal extinctions, and it marks
E. an event that caused the plant and animal extinctions that mark

Thanks.
Shraddha



A & B which is incorrectly referring to NA
C is incorrect because asteriod didn't cause extinctions,
D, it is ambiguous
E, is the correct answer
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 18 Sep 2012, 18:44
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catfreak wrote:
Thanks Shraddha. Found a question on Noun + Noun Modifier

Astronomers have theorized that the Big Bang governs the behavior of interstellar dust, particles that comprise the atoms and molecules created in the progenitive explosion and persisting in even the emptiest regions of space.
persisting
persists
persisted
they persist
are persisting

OA - A
Can you please explain why C is wrong. The explanation talks about parallelism but how is it possible to have present participle parallel to past participle.


I am not sure if you still have this doubt. After all you posted this question almost half a month back. In any case, if you still have doubts about this question, then I would suggest you read thisarticle. Pay close attention to the explanation of OG question - extending and spawned. And then come back here and solve this question. I would look forward to your explanation. If you have any other doubts regarding this, feel free to let me know.

Thanks,

Payal
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 03:35
Thanks egmat for this wonderful article. This article indeed is the best that I have come across..
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2012, 09:09
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Thank you all for all your appreciation. Your praises encourage and motivate us to continue the job that we are doing.
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Re: NOUN + NOUN MODIFIERS Before we start discussing about the   [#permalink] 26 Oct 2012, 09:09
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