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Correct usage of which

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BSchool Forum Moderator
Joined: 28 Mar 2017
Posts: 1161
Location: India
GMAT 1: 730 Q49 V41
GPA: 4

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23 Nov 2017, 12:09
1
Hello Experts,

Please throw some light on my below doubts:

Declining values for farm equipment and land, which farmers use as collateral to borrow against to get through the harvest season, are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.

1. In the above sentence, what does "which" modify? A. Declining values B. Farm equipment AND land C. Land (only) -- Please explain!
2. In the above sentence, what might be other issues present?

3. Can "which" refer back to 2 things separated by "and" in a sentence? Example: Coca Cola and Thumbs Up, which are produced by Coke, have same taste. --> is the usage of which correct here?

Regards
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6. Challange OG RC
7. GMAT Prep Challenge RC

Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4493
Re: Correct usage of which  [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2017, 13:31
1
gmatexam439 wrote:
Hello Experts,

Please throw some light on my below doubts:

Declining values for farm equipment and land, which farmers use as collateral to borrow against to get through the harvest season, are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.

1. In the above sentence, what does "which" modify? A. Declining values B. Farm equipment AND land C. Land (only) -- Please explain!
2. In the above sentence, what might be other issues present?

3. Can "which" refer back to 2 things separated by "and" in a sentence? Example: Coca Cola and Thumbs Up, which are produced by Coke, have same taste. --> is the usage of which correct here?

Regards

Dear gmatexam439,

I'm happy to respond.

The word "which" is a relative pronoun. It always starts a particular kind of noun-modifying dependent clause, known as a relative clause. Because "which" is a pronoun, its antecedent is a noun, the target noun modified by the relative clause. Typically, this is the noun that the clause touches.

In this sentence, here's just the independent clause:
Declining values for farm equipment and land are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.
That's a 100% perfect sentence by itself, grammatically & logically correct, but it doesn't tell the whole story. If we think about the economics of the situation, we may wonder what the value of "farm equipment and land" has to do with loans & credit.

The noun-modifying clause beginning with "which" provides this additional information. This clause follows the parallel nouns "farm equipment and land" and modifies these nouns: these nouns therefore are the antecedent of the pronoun "which."

These two nouns are mentioned together, "farm equipment and land," and the sentence makes no attempt to distinguish them, so it is fair to say that the "which" clause must modify both of them. To some extent, the answer to this question has zero impact on the grammar of the sentence.

Declining values for farm equipment and land, which farmers use as collateral to borrow against to get through the harvest season, are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.

This is a good sentence. The language in the "which" clause is a little causal and a little loose with prepositions. The construction "to get through" is colloquial, not formal. A more formal, well-written version might be:

1) Declining values for farm equipment and land, collateral against which farmers borrow to survive until the harvest season, are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.

2) Traditionally, each spring, farmers use farm equipment and land as collateral against which to borrow, to sustain themselves until the harvest, but this year, the declining values of these assets are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit for these loans.

I don't know whether either one of these is the "best" way to convey this information, but these are certainly more academic and formal than the original version.

The pronoun "which" certainly can refer to two or more nouns in parallel, as can "who" and "that" and most other relative pronouns. For clarity, I would say:
Coca Cola and Thumbs Up, both of which are produced by Coke, have same taste.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
_________________

Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

BSchool Forum Moderator
Joined: 28 Mar 2017
Posts: 1161
Location: India
GMAT 1: 730 Q49 V41
GPA: 4
Re: Correct usage of which  [#permalink]

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23 Nov 2017, 13:44
mikemcgarry wrote:
gmatexam439 wrote:
Hello Experts,

Please throw some light on my below doubts:

Declining values for farm equipment and land, which farmers use as collateral to borrow against to get through the harvest season, are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.

1. In the above sentence, what does "which" modify? A. Declining values B. Farm equipment AND land C. Land (only) -- Please explain!
2. In the above sentence, what might be other issues present?

3. Can "which" refer back to 2 things separated by "and" in a sentence? Example: Coca Cola and Thumbs Up, which are produced by Coke, have same taste. --> is the usage of which correct here?

Regards

Dear gmatexam439,

I'm happy to respond.

The word "which" is a relative pronoun. It always starts a particular kind of noun-modifying dependent clause, known as a relative clause. Because "which" is a pronoun, its antecedent is a noun, the target noun modified by the relative clause. Typically, this is the noun that the clause touches.

In this sentence, here's just the independent clause:
Declining values for farm equipment and land are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.
That's a 100% perfect sentence by itself, grammatically & logically correct, but it doesn't tell the whole story. If we think about the economics of the situation, we may wonder what the value of "farm equipment and land" has to do with loans & credit.

The noun-modifying clause beginning with "which" provides this additional information. This clause follows the parallel nouns "farm equipment and land" and modifies these nouns: these nouns therefore are the antecedent of the pronoun "which."

These two nouns are mentioned together, "farm equipment and land," and the sentence makes no attempt to distinguish them, so it is fair to say that the "which" clause must modify both of them. To some extent, the answer to this question has zero impact on the grammar of the sentence.

Declining values for farm equipment and land, which farmers use as collateral to borrow against to get through the harvest season, are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.

This is a good sentence. The language in the "which" clause is a little causal and a little loose with prepositions. The construction "to get through" is colloquial, not formal. A more formal, well-written version might be:

1) Declining values for farm equipment and land, collateral against which farmers borrow to survive until the harvest season, are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit this spring.

2) Traditionally, each spring, farmers use farm equipment and land as collateral against which to borrow, to sustain themselves until the harvest, but this year, the declining values of these assets are going to force many lenders to tighten or deny credit for these loans.

I don't know whether either one of these is the "best" way to convey this information, but these are certainly more academic and formal than the original version.

The pronoun "which" certainly can refer to two or more nouns in parallel, as can "who" and "that" and most other relative pronouns. For clarity, I would say:
Coca Cola and Thumbs Up, both of which are produced by Coke, have same taste.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Hello mikemcgarry,

I wish I could give you a thousand kudos for the explanation. Thank you very much for the detailed analysis. I was thinking on the same lines but a few people's replies made me doubt my understanding.

Once again thank you very very much for the detailed explanation -- you saved/made my day

Regards
_________________

Kudos if my post helps!

Long And A Fruitful Journey - V21 to V41; If I can, So Can You!!

Preparing for RC my way

My study resources:
1. Useful Formulae, Concepts and Tricks-Quant
2. e-GMAT's ALL SC Compilation
3. LSAT RC compilation
4. Actual LSAT CR collection by Broal
5. QOTD RC (Carcass)
6. Challange OG RC
7. GMAT Prep Challenge RC

Manager
Joined: 20 Apr 2013
Posts: 136
Re: Correct usage of which  [#permalink]

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25 Nov 2017, 19:58
mikemcgarry wrote:
The pronoun "which" certainly can refer to two or more nouns in parallel

Hi mike, by any chance, if you could dig up an official example in this regard, it would augment our understanding.
Re: Correct usage of which &nbs [#permalink] 25 Nov 2017, 19:58
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