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Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep

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Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2013, 05:08
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Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo, providing the port of New York City with a direct water link to the heartland of the North American continent.
A. Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
B. Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
C. It was seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, and ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, but the Erie Canal, connecting
D. The Erie Canal was seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep and it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected
E. The Erie Canal, seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, connecting
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2013, 13:52
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NewKid123 wrote:
Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo, providing the port of New York City with a direct water link to the heartland of the North American continent.
A. Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
B. Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
C. It was seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, and ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, but the Erie Canal, connecting
D. The Erie Canal was seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep and it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected
E. The Erie Canal, seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, connecting

Dear NewKid123
I'm happy to help with this one. :-) I like this question. What's the source?

(A) we have a modifier "seldom more than ..." in parallel with an independent clause "it ran ....", a failure of parallelism. Then, we get a run-on sentence --- two independent clauses separated only by a comma. See:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/lessons/916-run-on-sentences
This choice is incorrect.

(B) [modifier] "but" [modifier], [subject][verb] .... all correct. This is promising.

(C) "It was ..." (independent clause), "and ran" (verb in parallel, so far, so good), "but the Erie canal" [modifier][modifier]
This is a failure of parallelism --- after that comma and "but", we need either a full verb or a complete independent clause, and we get neither. For more on parallelism, see:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/parallelis ... orrection/
This is incorrect.

(D) Misplaced modifier!! A classic mistake!! "... the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo ..." The canal did that connecting, not the wilderness of upstate NY. The canal is the intended modifier, but the modifier is nowhere near the canal. This is a violation of the Modifier Touch Rule --- see:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/modifiers- ... orrection/

(E) The missing verb mistake!! Another oldie but goodie!! This choice has modifier after modifier --- it has a perfectly good subject, "The Erie Canal" at the beginning, but this subject has absolutely no verb. There is no full verb anywhere in the sentence, only participial modifiers. See
http://gmat.magoosh.com/lessons/914-the ... rb-mistake

Thus, the only completely correct choice, and hence the only possible answer, is (B).

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 09 Oct 2013, 22:34
mikemcgarry wrote:
NewKid123 wrote:
Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo, providing the port of New York City with a direct water link to the heartland of the North American continent.
A. Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
B. Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
C. It was seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, and ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, but the Erie Canal, connecting
D. The Erie Canal was seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep and it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected
E. The Erie Canal, seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, connecting

Dear NewKid123
I'm happy to help with this one. :-) I like this question. What's the source?

(A) we have a modifier "seldom more than ..." in parallel with an independent clause "it ran ....", a failure of parallelism. Then, we get a run-on sentence --- two independent clauses separated only by a comma. See:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/lessons/916-run-on-sentences
This choice is incorrect.

(B) [modifier] "but" [modifier], [subject][verb] .... all correct. This is promising.

(C) "It was ..." (independent clause), "and ran" (verb in parallel, so far, so good), "but the Erie canal" [modifier][modifier]
This is a failure of parallelism --- after that comma and "but", we need either a full verb or a complete independent clause, and we get neither. For more on parallelism, see:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/parallelis ... orrection/
This is incorrect.

(D) Misplaced modifier!! A classic mistake!! "... the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo ..." The canal did that connecting, not the wilderness of upstate NY. The canal is the intended modifier, but the modifier is nowhere near the canal. This is a violation of the Modifier Touch Rule --- see:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/modifiers- ... orrection/

(E) The missing verb mistake!! Another oldie but goodie!! This choice has modifier after modifier --- it has a perfectly good subject, "The Erie Canal" at the beginning, but this subject has absolutely no verb. There is no full verb anywhere in the sentence, only participial modifiers. See
http://gmat.magoosh.com/lessons/914-the ... rb-mistake

Thus, the only completely correct choice, and hence the only possible answer, is (B).

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)

Hi, I chose B as my answer but later realised that B changes the meaning. In the original sentence the canal is 40ft wide and 12ft deep, but in B the canal is 40ft wide or 12ft wide? Isnt this supposed to be a deal breaker since the meaning changed?
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2013, 10:16
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mahendru1992 wrote:
Hi, I chose B as my answer but later realised that B changes the meaning. In the original sentence the canal is 40ft wide and 12ft deep, but in B the canal is 40ft wide or 12ft wide? Isn't this supposed to be a deal breaker since the meaning changed?

Dear mahendru1992,
I happy to respond. :-) Here's the question again.

Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo, providing the port of New York City with a direct water link to the heartland of the North American continent.
A. Seldom more than 40 feet
wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
B. Seldom more than 40 feet
wide and 12 feet deep but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
C. It was seldom more than 40 feet
wide and 12 feet deep, and ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, but the Erie Canal, connecting
D. The Erie Canal was seldom more than
wide and 12 feet deep and it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected
E. The Erie Canal, seldom more than
wide and 12 feet deep, but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, connecting

Hmmm. I don't think I'm seeing what you see. I don't see the words "wide" and "deep" swapped anywhere.

I will say, that, if the question did swap these words, that would be kinda a dirty cheap trick. The GMAT will not do that do you, nor will any better-quality GMAT test prep source. I don't know the source of this question, but the question itself appears to be of very high quality.

When GMAT SC answer choices "switch meaning", it's not a niggling cheap word-swap such as that. No, the "changes in meaning" often have to do with more subtle logical issues. For example, consider this sentence:
The state of Maine, in the extreme northeast corner of the continental United States, shares land borders with two Canadian provinces, Quebec and New Brunswick, but only is adjacent with one state, New Hampshire.
(A) only is adjacent with one
(B) is adjacent only with one
(C) is adjacent to only one other
(D) only is adjacent to one
(E) is only adjacent to one other

You can read more about this question, and the OA, at:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/logical-pr ... orrection/
Technically, there are subtle changes in meaning among the answer choices, although some folks might recognize that there's any difference in meaning. We can tell what the sentence is trying to say, and the job is to figure out the correct way to say it. That's most often the kind of "change in meaning" challenge the GMAT SC presents.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2013, 10:44
mikemcgarry wrote:
mahendru1992 wrote:
Hi, I chose B as my answer but later realised that B changes the meaning. In the original sentence the canal is 40ft wide and 12ft deep, but in B the canal is 40ft wide or 12ft wide? Isn't this supposed to be a deal breaker since the meaning changed?

Dear mahendru1992,
I happy to respond. :-) Here's the question again.

Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo, providing the port of New York City with a direct water link to the heartland of the North American continent.
A. Seldom more than 40 feet
wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
B. Seldom more than 40 feet
wide and 12 feet deep but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
C. It was seldom more than 40 feet
wide and 12 feet deep, and ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, but the Erie Canal, connecting
D. The Erie Canal was seldom more than
wide and 12 feet deep and it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected
E. The Erie Canal, seldom more than
wide and 12 feet deep, but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, connecting

Hmmm. I don't think I'm seeing what you see. I don't see the words "wide" and "deep" swapped anywhere.

I will say, that, if the question did swap these words, that would be kinda a dirty cheap trick. The GMAT will not do that do you, nor will any better-quality GMAT test prep source. I don't know the source of this question, but the question itself appears to be of very high quality.


Hi thanks for replying. :D But what i mean is if you look at the original question which has the following line "Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep but if you look at option B "Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep". How does this make sense? I'm sorry if i'm nitpicking and if the meaning is obvious, I don't get it.
P.S The question that you posted in your reply has and in option b. So could the original question have a typo by any chance?
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2013, 15:41
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mahendru1992 wrote:
Hi thanks for replying. :D But what i mean is if you look at the original question which has the following line "Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep but if you look at option B "Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep". How does this make sense? I'm sorry if i'm nitpicking and if the meaning is obvious, I don't get it.
P.S The question that you posted in your reply has and in option b. So could the original question have a typo by any chance?

Ah! I didn't notice the and/or distinction. This is a perfect example of changing the meaning to what the sentence is trying to say.

The sentence is trying to say ----
The Erie Canal is seldom more than 40 feet wide
and also
The Erie Canal is seldom more than 12 feet deep
That's the intended meaning. It is trying to say that each one of those conditions is true. How do we say that in combined form?

This is a very common mistake --- combining negative statements (the word "seldom" is a mild negative). People think that because there's an "and" between the two overall ideas, there should be an "and" between the individual elements. This is WRONG.
The sentence
"The Erie Canal is seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep"
technically implies: What's rare is the combination, the stretches where the canal is simultaneously more than 40 feet wide and more than 12 feet deep. It's only a statement about the combination stretches, where both conditions are met. In other words, this sentence allows for all kinds of stretches where it is much wider than 40, as long as its shallow, or much deeper than 12, as long as its narrow. That's what is allowed by this phrasing, and this is not what the sentence is trying to say. The sentence is trying to say that (1) the condition "more than 40 feet wide" is a rare condition, and separately, (2) the condition "more than 12 feet deep" is a rare condition. Both are rare individually --- it's not the combination that's important at all. The correct way to convey this is:
"The Erie Canal is seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep"

Similarly,
One cannot vote if one is under 18. True.
One cannot vote if one has a felony record. True.
How do we combine these into a single true statement. Many people make the mistake:
One cannot vote if one is under 18 and has a felony record.
That would be an illogical statement saying that the only folks forbidden to vote would be teenagers with felony records, a rare group. According to that red sentence, teenagers with no criminal record and felons over the age of 18 both would be allowed to vote, which is blatantly untrue.
The correct way to say this is:
One cannot vote if one is under 18 or has a felony record.

If the GMAT gives a mistake structure in the original, the job is to figure out the correct way to communicate what the original sentence is trying to say. The "not ... and" structure is almost always a mistake: see OG13, SC #21.

I hadn't noticed this split --- this increases my respect for this question even further. :-)

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 10 Oct 2013, 21:12
mikemcgarry wrote:
mahendru1992 wrote:
Hi thanks for replying. :D But what i mean is if you look at the original question which has the following line "Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep but if you look at option B "Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep". How does this make sense? I'm sorry if i'm nitpicking and if the meaning is obvious, I don't get it.
P.S The question that you posted in your reply has and in option b. So could the original question have a typo by any chance?

Ah! I didn't notice the and/or distinction. This is a perfect example of changing the meaning to what the sentence is trying to say.

The sentence is trying to say ----
The Erie Canal is seldom more than 40 feet wide
and also
The Erie Canal is seldom more than 12 feet deep
That's the intended meaning. It is trying to say that each one of those conditions is true. How do we say that in combined form?

This is a very common mistake --- combining negative statements (the word "seldom" is a mild negative). People think that because there's an "and" between the two overall ideas, there should be an "and" between the individual elements. This is WRONG.
The sentence
"The Erie Canal is seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep"
technically implies: What's rare is the combination, the stretches where the canal is simultaneously more than 40 feet wide and more than 12 feet deep. It's only a statement about the combination stretches, where both conditions are met. In other words, this sentence allows for all kinds of stretches where it is much wider than 40, as long as its shallow, or much deeper than 12, as long as its narrow. That's what is allowed by this phrasing, and this is not what the sentence is trying to say. The sentence is trying to say that (1) the condition "more than 40 feet wide" is a rare condition, and separately, (2) the condition "more than 12 feet deep" is a rare condition. Both are rare individually --- it's not the combination that's important at all. The correct way to convey this is:
"The Erie Canal is seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep"

Similarly,
One cannot vote if one is under 18. True.
One cannot vote if one has a felony record. True.
How do we combine these into a single true statement. Many people make the mistake:
One cannot vote if one is under 18 and has a felony record.
That would be an illogical statement saying that the only folks forbidden to vote would be teenagers with felony records, a rare group. According to that red sentence, teenagers with no criminal record and felons over the age of 18 both would be allowed to vote, which is blatantly untrue.
The correct way to say this is:
One cannot vote if one is under 18 or has a felony record.

If the GMAT gives a mistake structure in the original, the job is to figure out the correct way to communicate what the original sentence is trying to say. The "not ... and" structure is almost always a mistake: see OG13, SC #21.

I hadn't noticed this split --- this increases my respect for this question even further. :-)

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)

Ahhh Now I understand. Thanks a lot for bearing with me.
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 11 Oct 2013, 04:47
I could not find the answer, and went with A

B-D) 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep -> or changes the meaning
E) Missing Verb
C) Not parallel

So only answer choice left is A
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 11 Oct 2013, 05:53
Thank you Mike.

Your explanation(s) and the links you shared were very helpful. Source is OG12 :)
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 11 Oct 2013, 12:17
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NewKid123 wrote:
Thank you Mike.

Your explanation(s) and the links you shared were very helpful. Source is OG12 :)

Ah, no wonder it's such a good question.
Mike :-)
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 18 Apr 2014, 10:29
mikemcgarry wrote:
NewKid123 wrote:
Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo, providing the port of New York City with a direct water link to the heartland of the North American continent.
A. Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
B. Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected
C. It was seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, and ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, but the Erie Canal, connecting
D. The Erie Canal was seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep and it ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected
E. The Erie Canal, seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, connecting

Dear NewKid123
I'm happy to help with this one. :-) I like this question. What's the source?

(A) we have a modifier "seldom more than ..." in parallel with an independent clause "it ran ....", a failure of parallelism. Then, we get a run-on sentence --- two independent clauses separated only by a comma. See:
http://gmat.magoosh.com/lessons/916-run-on-sentences
This choice is incorrect.

(B) [modifier] "but" [modifier], [subject][verb] .... all correct. This is promising.

(C) "It was ..." (independent clause), "and ran" (verb in parallel, so far, so good), "but the Erie canal" [modifier][modifier]
This is a failure of parallelism --- after that comma and "but", we need either a full verb or a complete independent clause, and we get neither. For more on parallelism, see:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/parallelis ... orrection/
This is incorrect.

(D) Misplaced modifier!! A classic mistake!! "... the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, which connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo ..." The canal did that connecting, not the wilderness of upstate NY. The canal is the intended modifier, but the modifier is nowhere near the canal. This is a violation of the Modifier Touch Rule --- see:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2013/modifiers- ... orrection/

(E) The missing verb mistake!! Another oldie but goodie!! This choice has modifier after modifier --- it has a perfectly good subject, "The Erie Canal" at the beginning, but this subject has absolutely no verb. There is no full verb anywhere in the sentence, only participial modifiers. See
http://gmat.magoosh.com/lessons/914-the ... rb-mistake

Thus, the only completely correct choice, and hence the only possible answer, is (B).

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)



Hi Mike,

Thanks for the detailed explanation.

Question for you:
A) You state there is a run on sentence - where is the run on? The information after ",providing" doesn't have an independent clause since it's a -ing verb. Am I missing something here?
B) I actually chose this answer because it looked best but the more I look at it, isn't there a parallelism issue -- "Seldom more than ... but ...running 363 miles" - Isn't it an independent clause and then running starts with a verb?

Thanks!

EDIT: Another trick I used(which i'm not sure is valid) is whenever I saw the sentence begin with a pronoun or if the sentence had a pronoun before the antecedent, I automatically eliminated it. I figured that the antecedent has to come BEFORE the pronoun. Therefore, I eliminated A & C. Is that a false assumption I made?
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep [#permalink] New post 18 Apr 2014, 13:17
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russ9 wrote:
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the detailed explanation.

Question for you:
A) You state there is a run on sentence - where is the run on? The information after ",providing" doesn't have an independent clause since it's a -ing verb. Am I missing something here?
B) I actually chose this answer because it looked best but the more I look at it, isn't there a parallelism issue -- "Seldom more than ... but ...running 363 miles" - Isn't it an independent clause and then running starts with a verb?

Thanks!

EDIT: Another trick I used (which i'm not sure is valid) is whenever I saw the sentence begin with a pronoun or if the sentence had a pronoun before the antecedent, I automatically eliminated it. I figured that the antecedent has to come BEFORE the pronoun. Therefore, I eliminated A & C. Is that a false assumption I made?

Dear russ9,
I'm happy to respond. :-)

1) the run-on in choice (A)
It ran 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal connected the Hudson River at Albany to the Great Lakes at Buffalo.
That's a run-on sentence with a comma-splice, a classic mistake pattern.

2) in the OA, choice (B):
//Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep
but
//running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York
Those are two parallel noun-modifier. Either one could be used alone to modify "the Erie Canal":
Seldom more than 40 feet wide or 12 feet deep, the Erie Canal ...
Running 363 miles across the rugged wilderness of upstate New York, the Erie Canal ...


3) Your trick will usually work, but in certain cases, it could run into math. You see, the antecedent can come after the pronoun under certain circumstances. For example, it can generate rhetorical tension to mention a pronoun in the first clause, inducing curiosity in the reader. A skilled writer might use this to create momentum --- the curiosity impels the reader to know more. For example, if I begin:
Though he was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, ...
That opening leaves the reader with a sense of curiosity: who is the writer going to name? what kind of ironic contrast will be communicated? Here's the whole sentence:
Though he was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century, Einstein struggled with math throughout his life.
That sentence is grammatically correct and rhetorically sophisticated, and yet the pronoun comes before its antecedent.

Does all this make sense?
Mike :-)
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Re: Seldom more than 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep   [#permalink] 18 Apr 2014, 13:17
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