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pronoun ambiguity contradiction

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pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2011, 11:49
I believe this is the most blatant case of the GMAC being contradictory. I know most experienced GMAT victims have found that pronoun ambiguity tolerance is somewhat of a gray area, but can someone please explain how pronoun ambiguity is cause for dismissal of choice C here, yet a nearly identical situation further below is allowed. Or how can the two not be compared?

Heavy commitment by an executive to a course of action, especially if it has worked well in the past, makes it likely to miss signs of incipient trouble or misinterpret them when they do appear.

A. Heavy commitment by an executive to a course of action, especially if it has worked well in the past, makes it likely to miss signs of incipient trouble or misinterpret them when they do appear.
B. An executive who is heavily committed to a course of action, especially one that worked well in the past, makes missing signs of incipient trouble or misinterpreting ones likely when they do appear.
C. An executive who is heavily committed to a course of action is likely to miss or misinterpret signs of incipient trouble when they do appear, especially if it has worked well in the past.
D. Executives’ being heavily committed to a course of action, especially if it has worked well in the past, makes them likely to miss signs of incipient trouble or misinterpreting them when they do appear.
E. Being heavily committed to a course of action, especially one that has worked well in the past, is likely to make an executive miss signs of incipient trouble or misinterpret them when they do appear.

OA = E
Reason for C being incorrect is -- "The reference for the pronoun it is unclear because many nouns have intervened between the appearance of the logical referent (course of action) and it."

YET

Because there are provisions of the new maritime code that provide that even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fie lds of large sea areas. they have already stimulated international disputes over uninhabited islands.

(A) Because there are provisions of the new maritime code that provide that even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas, they have already stimulated
(B) Because the new maritime code provides that even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas, it has already stimulated
(C) Even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas under provisions of the new maritime code, already stimulating
(D) Because even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fields of large sea areas under provisions of the new maritime code, this has already stimulated
(E) Because even tiny islets can be the basis for claims to the fisheries and oil fie lds of large sea areas under provisions of the new maritime code, which is already stimulating

OA=B
Couldn't make these two cases more similar if I tried!
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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2011, 12:00
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In the second problem, 'new maritime code' is the subject of the sentence, and 'the basis' is part of the predicate. Since 'it' in the second half of the sentence is the subject of a new clause, it is clear that 'it' was intended to reproduce the first subject.

In the first case you cited, 'course of action' and 'incipient trouble' are BOTH part of the predicate of the sentence. Since neither of them are a subject, the fact that 'it' is the subject of the dependent clause 'it has worked in the past' does not let us associate the pronoun with a particular antecedent, so the sentence is ambigious.

Hope this helps!

Eli

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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2011, 08:28
Yes, it completley helps! Why am I not finding this rule (clause/predicate specification) in MGMAT, Kaplan, or SC bible!!!
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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 27 Nov 2011, 05:29
KapTeacherEli wrote:
In the second problem, 'new maritime code' is the subject of the sentence, and 'the basis' is part of the predicate. Since 'it' in the second half of the sentence is the subject of a new clause, it is clear that 'it' was intended to reproduce the first subject.

In the first case you cited, 'course of action' and 'incipient trouble' are BOTH part of the predicate of the sentence. Since neither of them are a subject, the fact that 'it' is the subject of the dependent clause 'it has worked in the past' does not let us associate the pronoun with a particular antecedent, so the sentence is ambigious.


Hope this helps!

Eli


Hi Eli,

This absolutely helps. Great ! Can you please extend this a little bit with a little more cases. What if the pronoun appears in the part of the predicate of the clause 2, where should we look for the antecedent. Only this possibility struck to me. If there were other possibilities also please do explain.

nd also with respect to the above problem,

Is it perfect to say that, the pronoun in the subject of the other clause of the sentence clearly refers only to the subject in the clause 1. If the pronoun and the antecedent (i.e. subject of clause 1) do not match up correctly then there is a pronoun error ). Am i getting it right. ?


Thanks in advance !

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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 27 Nov 2011, 08:07
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ksp wrote:
KapTeacherEli wrote:
In the second problem, 'new maritime code' is the subject of the sentence, and 'the basis' is part of the predicate. Since 'it' in the second half of the sentence is the subject of a new clause, it is clear that 'it' was intended to reproduce the first subject.

In the first case you cited, 'course of action' and 'incipient trouble' are BOTH part of the predicate of the sentence. Since neither of them are a subject, the fact that 'it' is the subject of the dependent clause 'it has worked in the past' does not let us associate the pronoun with a particular antecedent, so the sentence is ambigious.


Hope this helps!

Eli


Hi Eli,

This absolutely helps. Great ! Can you please extend this a little bit with a little more cases. What if the pronoun appears in the part of the predicate of the clause 2, where should we look for the antecedent. Only this possibility struck to me. If there were other possibilities also please do explain.

nd also with respect to the above problem,

Is it perfect to say that, the pronoun in the subject of the other clause of the sentence clearly refers only to the subject in the clause 1. If the pronoun and the antecedent (i.e. subject of clause 1) do not match up correctly then there is a pronoun error ). Am i getting it right. ?


Thanks in advance !
Unforutnately, it's hard to give generalizations; as with many things in English, the answer is context-dependent. However, it's not true that it is automatically wrong for a pronoun in the predicate to refer to a noun that was a subject, or vice versa. This rule is only useful for resolving pronoun ambiguity. If a pronoun that is a subject is logically intended to replace a noun in a predicate, but could also grammatically replace the predicate's subject, then the meaning is wrong.

Correct:

When a farm plane air-drops pesticides, they spread farther than when distributed by other means.

Incorrect:

When farm planes air-drop pesticides, they spread farther than when distributed by other means.

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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2011, 17:58
I'm confused. Previously you said:
"In the second problem, 'new maritime code' is the subject of the sentence, and 'the basis' is part of the predicate. Since 'it' in the second half of the sentence is the subject of a new clause, it is clear that 'it' was intended to reproduce the first subject."

Could you not use your explanation as such:

Airplanes is the subject of the sentence and 'pesticides' is part of the predicate. Since 'they' in the second half of the sentence is the subject of a new clause, it is clear that 'they' was intended to reproduce the first subject.

?
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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2011, 18:27
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stringworm wrote:
I'm confused. Previously you said:
"In the second problem, 'new maritime code' is the subject of the sentence, and 'the basis' is part of the predicate. Since 'it' in the second half of the sentence is the subject of a new clause, it is clear that 'it' was intended to reproduce the first subject."

Could you not use your explanation as such:

Airplanes is the subject of the sentence and 'pesticides' is part of the predicate. Since 'they' in the second half of the sentence is the subject of a new clause, it is clear that 'they' was intended to reproduce the first subject.

?
Grammatically, yes--but logically, the sentence makes no sense if for farm planes to spread farther! Remember, meaning counts on the GMAT as much as grammar.

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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 01 Dec 2011, 20:31
Fair enough, and one last question about pronoun ambiguity before I put said topic to bed for life: In the following sentence, how does choice A have an ambiguous pronoun, yet choice B (the right answer) does not:

Constructed with the finest Italian marble, the floor of the church is its greatest attraction and is more attractive to tourists than are its ornate windows.

attraction and is more attractive to tourists than are its ornate windows
attraction, itself more attractive to tourists than are its ornate windows
attraction, itself more attractive to tourists as are its ornate windows
attraction, being more attractive to tourists than are its ornate windows
attraction, and itself is more attractive to tourists than ornate windows
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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction [#permalink] New post 02 Dec 2011, 07:39
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stringworm wrote:
Fair enough, and one last question about pronoun ambiguity before I put said topic to bed for life: In the following sentence, how does choice A have an ambiguous pronoun, yet choice B (the right answer) does not:

Constructed with the finest Italian marble, the floor of the church is its greatest attraction and is more attractive to tourists than are its ornate windows.

attraction and is more attractive to tourists than are its ornate windows
attraction, itself more attractive to tourists than are its ornate windows
attraction, itself more attractive to tourists as are its ornate windows
attraction, being more attractive to tourists than are its ornate windows
attraction, and itself is more attractive to tourists than ornate windows
Can you point me to the source of this problem? I think I know what's going on here, but I want to double check before I post.

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Re: pronoun ambiguity contradiction   [#permalink] 02 Dec 2011, 07:39
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