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According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the

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According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. than they were
D. than there had been
E. than had been born


Verbal Question of The Day: Day 159: Critical Reasoning


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Originally posted by r019h on 07 Jul 2007, 18:35.
Last edited by Bunuel on 23 Oct 2018, 00:36, edited 5 times in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Nov 2017, 12:11
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This is one of those classic comparison questions that can be really, really annoying if you’re not systematic and strict and literal with the meaning of the sentence. In my opinion, two of the WRONG answers sound better than the right answer. But my opinion doesn’t matter, and neither does “sound.” (Plus, who the heck starts having babies when they’re over the age of thirty? That’s really, really old. Oh, wait… crap. I’m over 30, huh?)

We also covered this one in a recent YouTube webinar on comparisons, so feel free to click here if you prefer your explanations in video form.

Before we look at the individual answer choices, hopefully the word “it” jumps out at you. It’s a singular pronoun, and… well, I guess it has to refer to “the age of thirty.” It’s really the only plausible singular referent, since “women” and “babies” are plural. And that’s one of the big keys to making sense of the question.

Quote:
A. than

So now we have: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under the age of thirty.”

I’ll be honest: I don’t love this answer choice. It sounds a little bit weird to me, but it’s also perfectly logical: the heart of the comparison revolves around the ages of the women. So I guess we have to keep (A), and see if there’s anything better down there somewhere.

Quote:
B. than born

(B) gives us: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than born under the age of thirty.” Wait, that arguably sounds OK, but it’s nonsense: literally, (B) is telling us that the BABIES were born under the age of thirty. I mean, sure: babies are definitely under thirty, but that’s not the point that the sentence is trying to make.

So (B) is out.

Quote:
C. than they were

In (C), we have: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were under the age of thirty.”

First of all, what does “they” refer to? You could argue for either “women” or “babies”, but neither makes much sense:

  • “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than babies were under the age of thirty.” → nope, that’s complete garbage
  • “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than women were under the age of thirty.” → also very confusing nonsense

So (C) is out, too.

Quote:
D. than there had been


(D) gives us: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than there had been under the age of thirty.”

Why would we use the past perfect tense “had been” here? When you think about the timeline, that doesn’t make any sense: the action in past perfect tense has to occur before another action in simple past. So this is literally saying that “there had been” babies born to women under the age of thirty BEFORE “babies were born to women over the age of thirty.” That makes no sense at all.

(D) is gone.

Quote:
E. than had been born

I actually think that (E) sounds pretty good, but it’s wrong for exactly the same reason as (D): the past perfect tense is illogical in this situation.

Plus, we still have a pesky comparison issue, even if you ignore the verb tense problem: “…more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than had been born under the age of thirty.” This is similar to the logical problem in (B): it sounds like we’re saying that BABIES were born under the age of thirty, and that’s clearly not what we’re trying to say.

So (E) is gone, and we’re left with (A). Whether you like the way it sounds or not.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Feb 2008, 21:12
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A. than
B. than born
C. than they were
D. than there had been
E. than had been born


This is tough one – twister. So, one way to resolve is to flip the sentence and check which one makes sense.

A: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more women over the age of thirty delivered babies than under age of thirty.[Hold it]

B: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more women over the age of thirty delivered babies than born under age of thirty.[This makes invalid – eliminate it]

C: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more women over the age of thirty delivered babies than they were under age of thirty.[Same women delivered over age thirty and under thirty – changes the meaning of the sentence – eliminate it]

D: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more women over the age of thirty delivered babies than there had been under age of thirty.[Implies women were delivering babies – eliminate it]

E: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more women over the age of thirty delivered babies than had been under age of thirty.[Does not make sense – eliminate it]

Answer: A
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Jul 2007, 18:51
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r019h wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. that they were
D. than there had been
E. than had been born

Please give explanations to support your choices. OA will be posted soon.


A should be the answer.
more women over X than under it.

the sentence is comparing the age of women and not the age of babies born, so rule out B and E.
C and D - ruled out because of lack of parallelism. - more women over X than "they were"/"than there had been" is incorrect..
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Jul 2007, 19:30
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According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than (to women) under it.

A.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Sep 2009, 23:31
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Option E reads

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than [babies] had been born under it

By introducing the verb, the meaning of the sentence changes, saying that more babies were born under the age of thirty. This doesn't make any sense.

Option A, relies on the ellipsis to make the right comparison


According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than [babies were born to women] under it [age of thirty]
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Mar 2013, 14:28
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Hi,

This is a tricky one. I think what helps differentiate the answers is to think about what the comparison is: Women under the age of thirty VS. Women over the age of thirty

And the structure is: More X than Y

or with the story filled in: More Women over the age thirty than under the age of thirty


The other thing that helps is to fill in the noun/noun phrase that the pronoun "it" is replacing. Replacing pronouns is often helpful in SC. It's good to make this a habit.

Answer B is wrong because you have were born on one side of the comparison and only born on the other side. You need to have were born on both sides or nothing at all (in this case the were born is distributed to the second half of the comparison). It's a bit like a list in which you can have the bar, the plane, and the floor or the bar, plane, and floor but not the plane, bar, and the floor. Either you need to have every element or just let the first element distribute. In general, you cannot mix and match.

Another strategy here is to re-arrange the sentence: More babies were born to woman over the age of thirty than (were born to) woman under the age of thirty in the state of Mass. in 1998.

Let me know if you need more advice on this one.

Happy Studies,

HG.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Mar 2013, 18:17
HerrGrau wrote:
Hi,

This is a tricky one. I think what helps differentiate the answers is to think about what the comparison is: Women under the age of thirty VS. Women over the age of thirty

And the structure is: More X than Y

or with the story filled in: More Women over the age thirty than under the age of thirty


The other thing that helps is to fill in the noun/noun phrase that the pronoun "it" is replacing. Replacing pronouns is often helpful in SC. It's good to make this a habit.

Answer B is wrong because you have were born on one side of the comparison and only born on the other side. You need to have were born on both sides or nothing at all (in this case the were born is distributed to the second half of the comparison). It's a bit like a list in which you can have the bar, the plane, and the floor or the bar, plane, and floor but not the plane, bar, and the floor. Either you need to have every element or just let the first element distribute. In general, you cannot mix and match.

Another strategy here is to re-arrange the sentence: [/b[b]]More babies were born to woman over the age of thirty than (were born to) woman under the age of thirty in the state of Mass. in 1998.

Let me know if you need more advice on this one.

Happy Studies,

HG.

Hmmm how could you simply imply the 'were born to' in the second half of the sentence? Are you saying the first were born to is the first and only element to be distributed? But that phrase 'were born to' is after more (within the idiotmatic construction)
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Mar 2013, 05:12
Hi,

I hope that you are well. I'm not exactly sure what your question is but let's take a look at another example:

In 2013 more profits were earned by Coca Cola than were earned by Pepsi

Were earned by CC is parallel to Were earned by Pepsi

In 2013 more profits were earned by Coca Cola than by Pepsi
By CC is parallel to By Pepsi and the were earned applies to both

In 2013 more profits were earned by Coca Cola than earned by Pepsi
Were earned by CC is NOT parallel to earned by Pepsi

The first two are equivalent. The last is incorrect and very similar to answer choice B.

Happy Studies,

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New post 06 Mar 2013, 08:08
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Hi there,

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

It is important to understand the intended meaning of the sentence.
• This sentence presents comparison. We need to find out what are the entities that are compared here.
• In 1998, Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to woman who were over the age of 30 than to those woman who were under the age of 30.
• The entities compared here the woman over 30 and woman under 30.

Now let’s see what the Errors are in this sentence:
Now there is just one word underlined in this sentence. The idiom used in this sentence is “…more babies are born to X than Y”. Here X and Y should be parallel.
X = woman over the age of thirty (noun phrase)
Y = (woman) under it (it = the age of thirty)
Since bot the entities are parallel here, there is no error in this sentence.

PoE:

A. than: Correct for the reason stated above.

B. than born: Incorrect. This choice leads to illogical comparison. Per this choice, entity Y = (babies) born under it (it = the age of thirty). This means the babies were under the age of 30. This is absolutely non-sensical.

C. than they were: Incorrect. Firstly, pronoun “they” is ambiguous here. If “they” refers to “babies”, then also it leads to illogical meaning and if “they” refers to “women”, then also lead to illogical meaning.

D. than there had been: Incorrect. This choice uses the incorrect verb tense as well as presents illogical comparison.

E. than had been born: Inocrrect. This choice repeats the verb tense error of choice D and illogical comparison error of choice B.

Hope this helps. :-)
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 06 Mar 2013, 08:13
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Well, the events did not happen one before the other but at the same time so the past perfect is incorrect. You should always question the use of the perfect tense and make sure that the order of the events is important to the meaning of the sentence. You can have a bunch of different events happening in the past and all of them can be in the past simple.

Even excusing the tense the meaning is obscured because it would seem that babies were born under 30 and not that the babies were born to women under thirty.

HG.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2013, 15:18
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Note:
- see the word "it" at the end of the sentence. "it" refers to what? Clearly, "it" refers to "thirty" ==> The comparison should be "women over thirty" vs "women under thirty".
- When see a comparison, be aware of "middle man" - a noun/noun phrase between two people/things being compared.


According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than [to women] under it.

1. than
Correct. Comparison "women over thirty" vs "women under thirty" (under "it"); "over" vs "under.

2. than born
Wrong. ambiguous. Because of the "middle man" - women ==> the meaning may be changed to "more babies were born to women over thirty than (women) born under it

3. than they were
Wrong. "they" refers to who? babies or women?

4. than they had been
Wrong. Same problem as in (3). "they" is not clear.

5. than had been born
Wrong. Same as in (2). Because of the middle man - women, the intended meaning may be distorted.

Hope it's clear
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New post 30 Aug 2013, 10:20
Dhairya275 wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

1. than
2. than born
3. than they were
4. than they had been
5. than had been born

Explanation please !!


Yes, this is an apples vs oranges question.

"more babies were born to X than Y"

x = women over 30
y = women under 30

No need to mention the verb "born" in the answer choices - so the simplest one works.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Dec 2014, 02:17
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According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

Basically
more babies were born to women over the age of thirty
than
babies were born to women under the age of thirty

age of thirty -> it
"babies were born to women" is ellipsed.


A. than -> Hence correct
B. than born
C. than they were
D. than there had been
E. than had been born
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A good video on this question is here:
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New post 15 Jan 2017, 01:05
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this question tests you on parallelism and meaning.

"than" requires parallelism. Also, note that "it" refers to "age of thirty".

"more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it." - Note that for parallelism, we start from right to left. See what is parallel to "under it" on the Left hand side of "than".

A maintains parallelism and hence is the correct answer. Since the sentence maintains parallelism what is implied here -
More babies were born to women over the age of thirty than [babies were born to women] under it.

B - Incorrect answer.
Answer option does not maintain parallelism. let us look at parallelism -
"more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than born under it."

Not perfectly parallel. "to women" is missing in RHS.
This answer option nonsensically implies that "[babies were] born under age of thirty".

C - Incorrect answer.

"more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were under it.". - two clauses are in parallel; however, "to women" is omitted. this changes the meaning of the sentence.

this sentence implies that babies were born under age of 30. - Illogical.

D - Incorrect.
Usage of past perfect is incorrect. We are referring to a specific time period - 1998.
Also, this option changes the meaning of the sentence.

E - Incorrect.
Usage of past perfect is incorrect. We are referring to a specific time period - 1998.
Changes the meaning of the sentence (like option B) -
"more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than had been born under it."

Not perfectly parallel. "to women" is missing in RHS.
This answer option nonsensically implies that "babies had been born under age of thirty".
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Mar 2017, 02:32
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AR15J wrote:
I have read all the explanation, but I still have one query

choice B-more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than born under it

My question: Can't we have more than one eclipses in one sentences?

more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than[ babies were] born [ to women] under it


Choice C : more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were under it.

My question: Why even one eclipse is not right in this case?

more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they(referring to babies--correct) were [born to women ] under it.


How to identify which uses of the eclipse are correct?


Omission of items (even more than two items) is definitely acceptable in the second element of a parallel structure, if those items have already been used in the first element and the meaning is not obscured.

On the other hand, not omitting will be considered a poor practice, if items are not omitted when they can be without ambiguity. This is because of concision issue.

Moreover when a verb is to be omitted, omit the complete verb, not a part of it. In option B a part of the verb "were born" is omitted. Either use "were born" or omit it altogether. But using a part i.e. "born" is wrong. If option B were "than were born", it would be alright.

In option C, the pronoun "they" is wrong. "They" wrongly refers to "babies", the SAME babies who were born to women over the age of thirty. Here a new copy of the noun "babies" is required (who were born to women under the age of thirty), hence using "they" is wrong. the correct pronoun is "that" (to create a new copy).
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Nov 2017, 07:06
r019h wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. that they were
D. than there had been
E. than had been born


HERE, the most important point to note was the INTENDED COMPARISON. We are comparing WOMEN OVER THE AGE OF 30 THAN THE WOMEN UNDER THE AGE OF 30. If this comparison is clear, there is nothing left in this question.

Also, ONE MORE IMPORTANT POINT TO NOTE is WHAT is this "it" referring to??
Whenever "it" is used in a COMPARISON sentence, "it" refers to the entire NOUN PHRASE and NOT JUST THE NOUN. VERY IMPORTANT POINT TO KEEP A NOTE OF. So, here "it" is referring to "THE AGE OF THIRTY" and NOT JUST the age.

Coming back to the question,

A. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than to women under the age of thirty.
Sounds LOGICAL. The implied meaning is ALSO CRISP AND CLEAR. Perfect answer!

B. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than born under it.
Here, the comparison becomes,

more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than (were) born under the age of thirty.
Thus, the comparison is ILLOGICAL. Here we are comparing the babies born to women over the age of thirty to the babies born under the age of 30. This is totally NON-SENSE
.

C. According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than they were under it.
Here, there are 2 possible errors

1. "they" can refer to both the women as well as the babies. Therefore, PRONOUN AMBIGUITY error.
2. the comparison is actually between the women over the age of 30 VS women under the age of 30. So, logically "they" should refer to women.

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than women were under the age of 30. --> TOTALLY NON SENSICAL COMPARISON.

Maybe, if we can try the other way round,

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than babies were under the age of 30. --> AGAIN TOTALLY NON SENSICAL COMPARISON.


Options D and E are wrong because of the usage of "HAD BEEN". No verb sequencing is required here. As we are talking wrt to the TIMEFRAME -- in 1998. So, the usage is totally INCORRECT.

I hope I had covered all the possible scenarios. :-)
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New post 07 Nov 2017, 11:05
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It will be helpful to remember that whenever a helping verb or auxiliary verb is being used in one arm, one needn't repeat the verb in the second arm. Here in the given case, 'were born' is the verb phrase where 'were' is the helping verb, Therefore, it will be in order to elide the verb in the second arm after 'than'. That is the reason that choices C, D and E, which repeat the verb after the comparator 'than ' are not correct. Even B which is jumping half the well is inappropriate. A is the eventual winner. Obviously, grammar skills are so important even in such advanced tests such as GMAT
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Nov 2017, 00:22
r019h wrote:
According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than under it.

A. than
B. than born
C. that they were
D. than there had been
E. than had been born


Hello Experts,

I have one question, if I replace the option B. than born with B. than were born --> Does this change makes option B correct? Please comment.

As per my understanding, the above sentence becomes,

According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the first state in which more babies were born to women over the age of thirty than were born under it.

This sentence is making the comparison logical. So, it seems correct to me. Please review.

mikemcgarry

Thanks.
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Re: According to public health officials, in 1998 Massachusetts became the   [#permalink] 09 Nov 2017, 00:22

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