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# Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats

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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
ReedArnoldMPREP wrote:

As Ron explained above: "There was no A or no B" implies that EITHER was missing, but not BOTH were missing. "There was no taco or no burger served at the restaurant" allows for either a taco or a burger (but not both) to be served. If neither was served, I should say "There were no tacos or burgers served."

As to your last question, it just seems somewhat idiomatic. "There was no (X) or (Y)" never means "There was (no X) or (Y)." You could argue there is a parallelism issue with that formulation. Parallelism must be logically parallel. "No x" is the absence of something, 'Y' is the presence of something. Those cannot be in logical parallel form
.

Hi ReedArnoldMPREP - thank you for the response in the yellow. Just sticking with the structure - No X or Y.

You mention per the yellow, interpretation # 1 is not a legitimate interpretation because interpretation #1 is not logically parallel [I agree !]

What about interpretation # 3 though ? Is interpreation # 3 also not parallel in your view ?

I know in parallelism nouns and verbs can be a part of the root [hence the verbs or the nouns are applicable to the X marker and the Y marker]

Is "No", not something that can be part of the root phrase because "No" is an adjective and adjectives cannot be part of the root ?

Originally posted by jabhatta2 on 10 Oct 2022, 17:35.
Last edited by jabhatta2 on 10 Oct 2022, 18:12, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
jabhatta2 wrote:
ReedArnoldMPREP wrote:

As Ron explained above: "There was no A or no B" implies that EITHER was missing, but not BOTH were missing. "There was no taco or no burger served at the restaurant" allows for either a taco or a burger (but not both) to be served. If neither was served, I should say "There were no tacos or burgers served."

As to your last question, it just seems somewhat idiomatic. "There was no (X) or (Y)" never means "There was (no X) or (Y)." You could argue there is a parallelism issue with that formulation. Parallelism must be logically parallel. "No x" is the absence of something, 'Y' is the presence of something. Those cannot be in logical parallel form
.

Hi ReedArnoldMPREP - thank you for the response in the yellow. Just sticking with the structure - No X or Y.

You mention per the yellow, interpretation # 1 is not a legitimate interpretation because interpretation #1 is not logically parallel [I agree !]

What about interpretation # 3 though ? Is interpreation # 3 also not parallel in your view ?

I know in parallelism nouns and verbs can be a part of the root [hence the verbs or the nouns are applicable to the X marker and the Y marker]

Is "No", not something that can be part of the root phrase because "No" is an adjective and adjectives cannot be part of the root ?

So this is going to get very abstract very quickly, in a way that is deeper than you'll need to get for the GMAT.

But a negation of 'or' actually leads to 'and.'

"There is no tea or coffee" is logically equivalent to "There is no tea and no coffee."

"There is no tea and coffee" (...that's probably not grammatically correct, one should probably say "There is not tea and coffee"... or "There are not tea and coffee"? IDK this sentence is weird) means "There is not tea or there is not coffee (or there is neither...)"

We're getting into predicate logic, here, at a deeper level than the GMAT requires.

I would just say with a negation at the onset of parallelism with 'or' or 'and' you don't distribute the negation to 'both,' it's negating the entire structure.

"No x or y" means "(not x) and (not y)"

"not x and y" means "(no x) or (no y) or (neither x nor y)"

"No x or no y" means "either (not x) or (not y) (but probably not 'neither x nor y'... though in the purest logic, the 'neither' case is also allowed here)."

"Not x but y" means "(No x) and y"
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Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
Thank you so much ReedArnoldMPREP RonTargetTestPrep

The challenge is to understand when do the rules of parallelism apply and/or when does boolean logic apply

Let me explain

In a simple sentence like this

Quote:
Original - I drink Sweet tea or coffee

I believe this sentence would be wrong because there are 3 interpretations

(Interpretation 1) I drink (Sweet tea) or (coffee)
(Interpretation 2) I drink Sweet (tea or coffee)
(Interpretation 3) I drink Sweet tea or (Sweet) coffee

But if i understand, this sentence for some strange reason is okay.

Quote:
Original - I drink Sweet No Tea or Coffee

Why - because for some reason, boolean logic takes over and we are supposed to assume, there is only one interepretation of this sentence.

I think its because of the presence of the "No" that somehow we are supposed to assume - boolean logic is in play whereas in the first sentence above -- boolean logic is NOT in play

OR

Perhaps, both my sentences are okay

Not sure
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Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
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jabhatta2 wrote:
Thank you so much ReedArnoldMPREP RonTargetTestPrep

The challenge is to understand when do the rules of parallelism apply and/or when does boolean logic apply

Let me explain

In a simple sentence like this

Quote:
Original - I drink Sweet tea or coffee

I believe this sentence would be wrong because there are 3 interpretations

(Interpretation 1) I drink (Sweet tea) or (coffee)
(Interpretation 2) I drink Sweet (tea or coffee)
(Interpretation 3) I drink Sweet tea or (Sweet) coffee

But if i understand, this sentence for some strange reason is okay.

Quote:
Original - I drink Sweet No Tea or Coffee

Why - because for some reason, boolean logic takes over and we are supposed to assume, there is only one interepretation of this sentence.

I think its because of the presence of the "No" that somehow we are supposed to assume - boolean logic is in play whereas in the first sentence above -- boolean logic is NOT in play

OR

Perhaps, both my sentences are okay

Not sure

I'll be totally honest, I don't fully understand what we're even discussing anymore, and it doesn't seem like a particularly fruitful GMAT discussion. We're into hypotheticals whose connection to the real test are vague, exceedingly rare, and possibly non-existent.

"I drink Sweet tea or coffee" is a perfectly correct sentence and would mean "I drink: (sweet tea) and (coffee)." But this is because 'sweet tea' is a very well known drink.

So take something like "I like pretty castles and flowers." You're dancing around 'whether an adjective can be the main crux of a root phrase' and 'is 'no' an adjective and what does it describe when part of parallelism?'

To the first I'd say, "probably? but carefully and rarely and it's certainly not what I see often on the test." To the second I'd say 'no, negations like 'no,' 'never,' or 'none' (and words like 'every,' 'all,' or 'each') are inherently Boolean.

So "I like pretty castles and flowers," are the 'flowers' pretty? Or just the castle? I don't know--and I have a hard time thinking of an official question that tests something like this.

But "I prefer no castles or flowers" is clear, because 'no' is not an adjective like 'pretty.'

If I really, really wanted to say "I want (no x) or (y)," I think it would help to put the negative *second*, maybe? "On my cereal, I like to put in milk or no liquid." But this is not something I've seen very often.
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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
EMPOWERgmatVerbal wrote:
Hello Everyone!

Let's tackle this question, one thing at a time, to quickly narrow down our choices to the right one! To begin, scan through the question and highlight the major differences we can find in orange:

Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats, from Mme de Lafayette to Anne de Noailles; there were no Jane Austens or Brontë sisters, perhaps because there were almost no clergymen’s daughters.

(A) were no Jane Austens or
(B) were not Jane Austens or
(C) was not Jane Austen nor the
(D) was not a Jane Austen or the
(E) was no Jane Austen or no

After a quick glance over the options, there are a few places we can focus on:

1. were vs. was
2. no vs. not
3. or / nor the / or the / or no

Let's start with #1 on our list: were vs. was. No matter which one we choose, it will eliminate 2-3 options rather quickly. We need to make sure that whichever verb we choose can apply to BOTH sets of people listed - not just the first one that's listed. To make this easier to spot, let's add "Brontë sisters" to each option:

(A) were no Jane Austens or Brontë sisters ("were" works with both items because they're both plural)
(B) were not Jane Austens or Brontë sisters ("were" works with both items because they're both plural)
(C) was not Jane Austen nor the Brontë sisters (singular "was" doesn't work with plural "sisters")
(D) was not a Jane Austen or the Brontë sisters (singular "was" doesn't work with plural "sisters")
(E) was no Jane Austen or no Brontë sisters (singular "was" doesn't work with plural "sisters")

We can eliminate options C, D, & E because they use a singular verb with the plural Brontë sisters.

Now that we have it narrowed down to only 2 options, let's look at the only difference we have left: no vs. not. This is an idiom issue! When we say that we're lacking two sets of things, there is a certain way we express that in English:

There were no Xs or Ys = CORRECT
There were not Xs or Ys = INCORRECT

Let's see how our options break down:

(A) were no Jane Austens or
(B) were not Jane Austens or

There you have it - option A was the correct choice all along! By focusing on the key differences, we were able to eliminate a lot of options right off the bat, leaving us with only a simple decision to make in the end!

Don't study for the GMAT. Train for it.

Question:

Does this mean, because we are exemplifying with two sets of items/people, this structure - "There was no X or Y" is always wrong?
Does it always have to be There WERE no X or Y?
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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats, from Mme de Lafayette to Anne de Noailles; there were no Jane Austens or Brontë sisters, perhaps because there were almost no clergymen’s daughters.

(A) were no Jane Austens or
(B) were not Jane Austens or
(C) was not Jane Austen nor the
(D) was not a Jane Austen or the
(E) was no Jane Austen or no

female writers so the verb has to be were. from A and B the ans is A because of parallelism between no jane austens and no clergymens daughters and were no is idiomatically correct compared to were not.
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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
NehaKalani wrote:

Question:

Does this mean, because we are exemplifying with two sets of items/people, this structure - "There was no X or Y" is always wrong?
Does it always have to be There WERE no X or Y?

No, it depends on the situation. It would be fine to say "There was no soap or hand sanitizer in the bathroom." Notice that both here and in the correct answer to the SC question, the two nouns are BOTH singular or BOTH plural, so we have a clear cue to use WAS (for two separate singulars) or WERE (for two separate plurals).

So what about a mix of singular and plural? Can we say "There was no soap or paper towels in the bathroom?" That strikes me as wrong, so I'd find a way to rewrite, but as Ron points out in the discussion above from October 2022, the GMAT isn't likely to test this kind of edge case, since there's no clear right way to do it.
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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
ReedArnoldMPREP @ronpuruwel RonTargetTestPrep DmitryFarber so can you please confirm the final logic when we have an inverted structure like this one with a compound subject- do we not follow the proximity rule at all and instead rely on both being plurall or singular for the purpose of GMAT? So do we have to see based on both the subjects which verb to use or can we look at ay one?
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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
Elite097 wrote:
ReedArnoldMPREP @ronpuruwel RonTargetTestPrep DmitryFarber so can you please confirm the final logic when we have an inverted structure like this one with a compound subject- do we not follow the proximity rule at all and instead rely on both being plurall or singular for the purpose of GMAT? So do we have to see based on both the subjects which verb to use or can we look at ay one?

I don't think the GMAT ever asks questions about compound subjects when the subjects do not match. I might be wrong, but it is exceedingly rare.
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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
Quote:
Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats, from Mme de Lafayette to Anne de Noailles; there were no Jane Austens or Brontë sisters, perhaps because there were almost no clergymen’s daughters.

(A) were no Jane Austens or
(B) were not Jane Austens or
(C) was not Jane Austen nor the
(D) was not a Jane Austen or the
(E) was no Jane Austen or no

SC42561.01

Hi ReedArnoldMPREP

In the above question,
had been is PAST PERFECT or SIMPLE PAST tense

If had been is PAST PERFECT tense then we need simple past tense to complete the time sequence. Is BEFORE Colette acting as the SIMPLE PAST tense ?

Regards
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Re: Before Colette, the female writers of France had been aristocrats [#permalink]
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