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X of Y THAT... let's talk about this structure

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Manager
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Concentration: Social Entrepreneurship, Strategy
Schools: LBS '16 (M)
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X of Y THAT... let's talk about this structure [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2012, 18:41
Hi Members,

I wanted to share with you my compiled findings for a very specific issue and ask for help in completing my findings. The below sentence still bothers me toward the end of my SC journey, as I still don't fully comprehend the rule behind it. I have poked around and built my own little formula from bits and pieces around the forums, but I am still not at rest.

Example from GMAT prep:
Fossils of a whale that beached on an African shore more than a million years ago and was subsequently butchered by hominids have been recovered by paleontologists.

Let me color code it:
Fossils of a whale that beached on an African shore more than a million years ago and was subsequently butchered by hominids have been recovered by paleontologists.

Extracting:
FOSSILS... have been...
Whale that beached... and was butchered ...

Which leads me to the rule:
ONE OF "PLURAL" + that\who = "PLURAL"
- or -
ONE OF "SINGULAR" + that/who = "SINGULAR"

This should be correct from all I have gathered, feel free to correct me.

A far more confusing example using "one of" - found also on this forum (I have shortened it as I can not find the full version, I believe it is from MGMAT):

Example 2 with "one of":
One of the factors that keep the team alive ...

... Factors that KEEP .. this seems to be the correct agreement (although I saw heavy discussion on this topic).

To complete / add to this sentence, would my own addition be correct?
One of the factors that keep the team alive IS ....

- or - at this point, is "factors" the subject and we should be looking at plural?

One of the factors that keep the team alive ARE ...

While I have my own thoughts, I was wondering if anyone had a concrete answer?

Thanks,
-C
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Last edited by Cantona on 05 Jun 2012, 20:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: X of Y THAT... let's talk about this structure [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2012, 19:02
There are a lot of discussions on this, e.g. :

fossils-of-a-whale-that-beached-on-an-african-shore-more-81590.html

Have you searched them prior to posting your query ?
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Concentration: Social Entrepreneurship, Strategy
Schools: LBS '16 (M)
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Kudos [?]: 20 [0], given: 3

Re: X of Y THAT... let's talk about this structure [#permalink] New post 05 Jun 2012, 20:36
I have, I thought my lengthy battle with the topic at hand might show from the post.

My question above is not about the particular example that I have given from GMAT prep. My question is about the rule set, and how to apply it to a broad spectrum of questions. Notice my second example.

There is not much detail on this rule, not even in MGMAT's SC Book from what I have seen. It is interesting how the two examples work, and I am not quite sure how the second one plays out.

Regards,
-C
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Re: X of Y THAT... let's talk about this structure [#permalink] New post 10 Jun 2012, 07:55
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Hi Cantona, great question. Both of your examples are correct. "One of the factors that keep the team alive is its perseverance under difficult circumstances" would be a legal sentence. This is really a modifier issue; "that keep the team alive" modifies "factors," and so the subject of the verb that follows is therefore "One."

Stop right there if you're not interested in super-picky grammar stuff (you've been warned!)

[Reveal] Spoiler:
The sentence you wrote does sound wrong to many people, even though it is correct. That's because in more informal settings, we say "One of the factors that keeps the team alive is its perseverance under difficult circumstances." In this version of the sentence, here's how everything works:

"One": the subject
"of the factors": modifies "One"
"that keeps the team alive": also modifies "One"!! This is unusual because a noun modifier beginning with "that" needs to touch the noun it modifies, except for a few rare exceptions that we generally don't discuss because the GMAT doesn't test the distinction. Generally speaking, the exception happens when we string two noun modifiers together, the first of which is short (like "of the factors"). You can think of "One of the factors" here as a noun phrase, so "that keeps the team alive" modifies that whole phrase, which is singular because we're only talking about one factor.

So both versions of the sentence could technically be correct. But I think your version is most likely to appear on the GMAT.

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Joined: 26 Mar 2012
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Concentration: Social Entrepreneurship, Strategy
Schools: LBS '16 (M)
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Kudos [?]: 20 [0], given: 3

Re: X of Y THAT... let's talk about this structure [#permalink] New post 12 Jun 2012, 15:45
Perfect, I really needed some confirmation on the modification part.

You have summed it up quite nicely here:

Quote:
This is really a modifier issue; "that keep the team alive" modifies "factors," and so the subject of the verb that follows is therefore "One."


This is generally the structure of GMAT questions as well, so I will continue along this path.

Thank you,

-C
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Re: X of Y THAT... let's talk about this structure   [#permalink] 12 Jun 2012, 15:45
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