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The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare

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The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare [#permalink] New post 05 Jan 2012, 12:09
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49% (01:57) correct 51% (01:03) wrong based on 283 sessions
The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare degenerative disease had begun to die six months earlier, even though they had shown no signs of the disease then.
(A) earlier, even though they had shown no signs of the disease then
(B) earlier, but they were not showing no signs of the disease then
(C) earlier, no outward signs of the disease had been shown in them, however
(D) earlier without any signs of the disease shown then
(E) earlier, even though no signs of it were seen in them at that time

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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 05 Jan 2012, 17:02
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In the first example below, the ‘they’ is clearly ambiguous because it can refer to either the control group mice or those who receive Xylanol.

In the second sentence, the ‘they’ is apparently ambiguous. However were we to say that the ‘they’ could refer to mice, we are saying that it is possible that mice could dress up in laboratory gear. This is clearly absurd because outside of Disney mice do not wear clothes. Thus a pronoun is not ambiguous if can reasonably only refer to one thing/group.


Clearly Ambiguous

Compared to mice in a control group, those mice receiving Xylanol were more likely to develop tumors, even if they had tumors before the study.


Not Ambiguous but Absurd

Scientists who test potentially carcinogenic substances on mice may be at a slight risk for cancer, even if they wear special protective clothing.


Original Sentence

The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare degenerative disease had begun to die six months earlier, even though they had shown no signs of the disease then.


As for the original sentence, the potential ambiguity is not absurd the way it is in the second example above. After all, scientists could potentially show signs of a degenerative disease (vs. mice donning lab gear). Nonetheless, it is clear from the sentence that the scientists are studying the rats for a disease. Therefore, when the second half of the sentence mention ‘they’ in reference to the disease, it is clear who the ‘they’ is.

Now let’s contrast the original sentence to the first one above. The ‘they’ could refer to either of the two groups, i.e. either the control group of the Xylanol group could have consisted of mice that had tumors before the study began. However, in the original sentence the scientists were the ones studying a degenerative disease they were not the ones suffering from it.

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Last edited by ChrisLele on 04 Jul 2012, 11:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 05 Jan 2012, 23:30
Thanks ChrisLele for the accurate explanation.
Actually my choice was D, but now I can notice that it is a bit changing the meaning of the original sentence by ignoring the subject of the passive voice (earlier without any signs of the disease shown then).

But tell me, if answer D was instead

D- "earlier without showing any signs of the disease then",

It would be a better answer choice than answer A because it not only eliminates the pronoun THEY, but also clearly tells that the rats are the ones showing the signs of the disease.

Do you agree with me?
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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2012, 00:25
Thanks for the detailed explanation ChrisLele.
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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 06 Jan 2012, 01:06
for me A and E stands out, and A is the best
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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2012, 10:45
ChrisLele, thank you for the detailed explanation. I was down with A and E but chose E as I thought they may refer to any of the two, but now I see what is the logical referent. However, what is wrong with E, it refers to disease and them will refer to by logic again to rats? Please explain in case I am missing on something.
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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2012, 11:45
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@pavanpuneet:

Answer choice (E) uses the passive construction, '...were seen in them...', and is therefore less concise than the original answer.

Hope that helps :)

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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 04 Jul 2012, 11:47
Should I in that case interpret that it is because of the passive construction that the answer choice is rejected and not because the pronoun use? or in other words if GMAT allowed two options as correct answers E would be the second option? Please confirm.
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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 05 Jul 2012, 11:00
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Exactly: the answer choice is incorrect because the passive construction is used, not because of the pronoun.

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Re: The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare [#permalink] New post 05 Dec 2013, 21:37
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Re: The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2014, 18:49
Who can explain how to make sure that 'they' in the second sentence after comma refers to rats and not the scientists themselves.

Also official explanation for answer choice E mentions usage of pronouns 'it' and 'they' introduces ambiguity. Really?
I thought 'it' clearly refers to the disease without any ambiguity and them in this case should be rats (by commonsense). Can somebody please clarify in details?
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Re: The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2014, 13:46
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aagar2003 wrote:
Who can explain how to make sure that 'they' in the second sentence after comma refers to rats and not the scientists themselves.

Also official explanation for answer choice E mentions usage of pronouns 'it' and 'they' introduces ambiguity. Really?
I thought 'it' clearly refers to the disease without any ambiguity and them in this case should be rats (by commonsense). Can somebody please clarify in details?


Second Option : earlier, but they were not showing no signs of the disease then

This option is fatally wrong because of double negation. 'They were not showing ANY signs of disease' is to be used instead of ''They were not showing NO signs of disease'

Now coming back to your point. 'They' refers back to rats because its the rats who are being noted for the disease and not the scientists. Please make sure that you never check pronoun errors in vacuum. Grammatically a pronoun can refer back to multiple nouns but if contextually it refers back to one noun then it can simply be overlooked.

You might want to fit the noun in place of pronoun to check if it makes sense.

The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare degenerative disease had begun to die six months earlier, even though SCIENTISTS had shown no signs of the disease then.

how can the dying of rats be connected to scientists showing signs of disease? can it?

I'll explain you with another example mentioned in one of the GMATclub threads:

King George is the ruler of the largest empire, its size as large as a continent.

What are the possible antecedents for the pronoun “its” in the above sentence?

“empire, continent”.

Now consider the following sentences and see which of them make sense in the context of the given sentence.
a. King George is the ruler of the largest empire, the empire’s size as large as a continent. (Makes perfect sense.)
b. King George is the ruler of the largest empire, the continent’s size as large as a continent. (This sentence doesn’t sound logical. Why does a continent come into the picture all of a sudden?)

As you can see only “empire” is the logical antecedent of the pronoun “its” in the above sentence.

Therefore the pronoun “its” unambiguously refers to “empire”

Which is why they use the word 'logical' in the very definition.

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Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!! [#permalink] New post 24 May 2014, 16:50
ChrisLele wrote:
In the first example below, the ‘they’ is clearly ambiguous because it can refer to either the control group mice or those who receive Xylanol.

In the second sentence, the ‘they’ is apparently ambiguous. However were we to say that the ‘they’ could refer to mice, we are saying that it is possible that mice could dress up in laboratory gear. This is clearly absurd because outside of Disney mice do not wear clothes. Thus a pronoun is not ambiguous if can reasonably only refer to one thing/group.


Clearly Ambiguous

Compared to mice in a control group, those mice receiving Xylanol were more likely to develop tumors, even if they had tumors before the study.


Not Ambiguous but Absurd

Scientists who test potentially carcinogenic substances on mice may be at a slight risk for cancer, even if they wear special protective clothing.


Original Sentence

The scientists noted that rats suffering from the rare degenerative disease had begun to die six months earlier, even though they had shown no signs of the disease then.


As for the original sentence, the potential ambiguity is not absurd the way it is in the second example above. After all, scientists could potentially show signs of a degenerative disease (vs. mice donning lab gear). Nonetheless, it is clear from the sentence that the scientists are studying the rats for a disease. Therefore, when the second half of the sentence mention ‘they’ in reference to the disease, it is clear who the ‘they’ is.

Now let’s contrast the original sentence to the first one above. The ‘they’ could refer to either of the two groups, i.e. either the control group of the Xylanol group could have consisted of mice that had tumors before the study began. However, in the original sentence the scientists were the ones studying a degenerative disease they were not the ones suffering from it.


Xylanol?? Where is that mentioned in the original question?
Re: Isn't THEY ambigous!!!!   [#permalink] 24 May 2014, 16:50
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