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Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written

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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2018, 20:25
razakay wrote:
As per my understanding which can refer to "Emily Dickinson???s letters" if "to Susan Huntington Dickinson" can be used any where else in the sentence and the sentence still makes logical sense. In this case can't we place "to Susan Huntington Dickinson" after "were written" and the sentence will still make sense.
For eg
Emily Dickinson???s letters were written to Susan Huntington Dickinson over a period beginning....
No, we can't do that here.

Emily Dickinson's letters were written to Susan Huntington Dickinson over a period beginning...

Your sentence means that all of ED's letters were written (to SHD). What we need is a reference to only those letters that were written to SHD.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jan 2019, 04:44
egmat wrote:
aadit1984 wrote:
Hi Deepak,

I totally get that there is a meaning error in A - the verb-ing, separated by comma, in no way presents result or in any way describes the preceding clause. However, what I am trying to figure is how the main clause in question becomes the modifier (which is usually an fyi thingy) in the correct answer E, while the modifier becomes the main clause?

I think meghna mentioned, in the link that you redirected to, that the idea 'SD's letters to ED outnumbered her letters to anyone else' is the main idea and the time frame during which she wrote the letters is just an additional info. However, the construction of the original question says otherwise.

Can you please help me understand why the time frame during which the letter were written is not the main idea of the sentence? For example, if the sentence were in a history text book and time frame was critical to make sense then it would be totally justified as the main clause, and the fact that those letters outnumbered any other be a modifier or a subordinate clause.

Is there anything wrong with my reasoning? Please help!

Thanks,
Adi



Hi Adi,
Thank you for posting your query here. :)

In the given sentence we have a concrete grammatical error in option A as you have already understood. So, we can reject choice A based on this error only. Also, if we consider the two pieces of information conveyed by the sentence:

1. ED wrote letters to SHD over a period beginning a few years before SHD's marriage to ED's brother and ending shortly before ED's death in 1886.
2. The letters written by ED to SHD outnumber her letters to anyone else.

So, the subject of the discussion here is ED's letters to SHD. Since the action of writing these letters is not a historical event we know that the main point of the sentence is the second one. Also as stated in OG, choice A overemphasizes on the period in which these letters were written. Note that, when there is an option available that conveys the intended meaning of the sentence better than the original sentence, then we can select the option even if there seems to be a change in meaning.


Hope this helps! :)
Regards,
Deepak


the pronoun "her" in both the original sentence and the correct answer choice should refer to Emily. Emily Dickinson hasn't been mentioned anywhere, even in the correct answer choice. could you help me understand this?
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jan 2019, 07:44
aditliverpoolfc wrote:
the pronoun "her" in both the original sentence and the correct answer choice should refer to Emily. Emily Dickinson hasn't been mentioned anywhere, even in the correct answer choice. could you help me understand this?

Hi aditliverpoolfc, her is used as a possessive pronoun here and it correctly refers to the possessive noun Emily Dickinson's.

So, it's a perfect usage here. However, it should be noted that even if that were not the case (had a possessive noun not been present), the sentence would still have been fine. GMAT is quite flexible on this front.
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Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 19 Jan 2019, 04:06
egmat wrote:
talismaaniac wrote:
Hello
Too many replies. I have just one issue with the question and all the options. Because all the options have a common theme - Emily Dickinson's letters. 's.
Let's study the option E.
E. Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan???s marriage to Emily???s brother and ending shortly before Emily???s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

In E, and so in every sentence, there seems to be a fatal flaw. First, the subject is Emily Dickinson's letters, and not Emily Dickinson. This leaves the her in the final clause outnumber her letters to anyone else with no antecedent. Second, even if you say that Emily Dickinson is the antecedent, it is actually Emily Dickinson's.

Now, to bolster my view, refer Manhattan's SC Guide.

Wrong statement: The board is investigating several executives' compensation packages in order to determine how much may have been improperly awarded to THEM.
Correct statement: The board is investigating the compensation packages of several executives in order to determine how much THEY may have been improperly awarded

Explanation: In this sentence, the pronoun them refers better to packages than to executives'.


So, can anyone explain how is any choice correct?




Hello talismaaniac,


I will be glad to help you out with this one. :-)


The way we have possessive nouns, similarly we have possessive pronouns too.

Possessive pronouns refer to possessive nouns as well as non-possessive nouns.

For example:

Ria's mother gifted Ria a beautiful dress on her birthday.

In the above-mentioned sentence, the possessive pronoun her refers to the possessive noun Ria's.


Just replace the pronoun her with its antecedent Ria's, and the sentence will continue to convey the same logical meaning.

Ria's mother gifted Ria a beautiful dress on Ria's birthday.


The official sentence at hand has the same usage of her in the original sentence as well as all the answer choices.


Emily Dickinson???s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan???s marriage to Emily???s brother and ending shortly before Emily???s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

The possessive pronoun her correctly refers to the possessive noun Emily Dickinson???s in the above-mentioned correct version of this official sentence.

Again, just replace her with Emily Dickinson???s, and the sentence will still stand correct and logical.


Hope this helps. :-)
Thanks.
Shraddha


Hi egmat, and other honorable experts ( RonPurewal, MartyMurray, GMATNinja, DmitryFarber, AjiteshArun )
The highlighted part makes me confused!

Quote:
Ria's mother gifted Ria a beautiful dress on her birthday.

Q1:
How do someone convinced that 'her' is not the antecedent of 'mother'?
I think, this sentence is pronoun ambiguity!
Here is an example:
Ria's mother went to Ria for her assignment.
We CAN'T say with 100% surety that the assignment is for Ria or Ria's mother . So, the use of her is totally pronoun ambiguity to me! Please correct me if my understanding is wrong.
Quote:
Ria's mother gifted Ria a beautiful dress on Ria's birthday.

Q2:
Is the sentence replica of "Emily Dickinson???s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson" or "Emily Dickinson???s letters to Emily Dickinson"? :roll:

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Originally posted by Asad on 19 Jan 2019, 03:36.
Last edited by Asad on 19 Jan 2019, 04:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2019, 14:44
1
AsadAbu wrote:
Quote:
Ria's mother gifted Ria a beautiful dress on her birthday.

Q1:
How do someone convinced that 'her' is not the antecedent of 'mother'?
I think, this sentence is pronoun ambiguity!
Here is an example:
Ria's mother went to Ria for her assignment.
We CAN'T say with 100% surety that the assignment is for Ria or Ria's mother . So, the use of her is totally pronoun ambiguity to me! Please correct me if my understanding is wrong.

Your understanding makes sense. In the above two examples there is no clear indication as to whether "her" refers to "Ria" or "Ria's mother." In the first case, what seems more likely is that "her" refers to "Ria." In the second case, what seems more likely is that "her" refers to "Ria's mother." Still, there is no clear indication one way or the other in either case.

Is the sentence replica of "Emily Dickinson???s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson" or "Emily Dickinson???s letters to Emily Dickinson"? :roll:

Let' consider the version created via the use of (E).

    Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

I guess one could make the case that "her" could somehow refer to "Susan Huntington Dickinson." However, the truth is that the sentence is clearly about Emily's letters. The idea that this sentence would start off being about Emily's letters and, somehow, at the end, be about Susan's letters outnumbering Susan's letters to anyone else does not make sense. So, while, in a sense, any female person that appears in the sentence before "her" could be the antecedent of "her," meaning dictates that "Emily Dickinson" is the antecedent of "her."

So, the version created via the use of (E) is different from your two "Ria's mother" examples, in that, in the version created via the use of (E), there are clear signs that "her" refers to one person and not to the other.

The takeaway here is that determining what makes sense in a sentence is not simply a matter of blindly applying basic rules. You have to ask yourself whether the construction of a sentence makes sense in a real world sense, rather than in some picky, non real world sense, and whether the sentence effectively conveys its meaning. If the sentence is not grammatically incorrect and effectively conveys its meaning, then there's no issue really.


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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Mar 2019, 00:22
Isn't 'Which' in the option 5 shouldn't modify the preceding noun and that is Dickinson??
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Mar 2019, 06:59
prav04 wrote:
Isn't 'Which' in the option 5 shouldn't modify the preceding noun and that is Dickinson??

Here's the version created via the use of choice (E).

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

Yes, "which" should refer the preceding noun. At the same time, we can use some judgement to determine what constitutes the preceding noun. In this case, we can tell that the preceding noun is not "Dickinson" but rather "Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson."

Another way to perceive this reference is to perceive "which" as jumping the prepositional phrase modifier "to Susan Huntington Dickinson" to a noun to which "which" would logically refer, "letters."
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Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Mar 2019, 03:47
prav04 wrote:
Isn't 'Which' in the option 5 shouldn't modify the preceding noun and that is Dickinson??

Hi prav04, in option 5, which cannot modify Susan Huntington Dickinson for following two reasons:

i) Grammatically, which cannot modify a person (Susan Huntington Dickinson here). If the intent is to modify a person, then the appropriate relative pronouns are who/whom/whose

ii) Notice that option 5 says:....which were written... The presence of were (a plural verb) indicates that which is modifying something plural, while Susan Huntington Dickinson is obviously singular.

p.s. Our book EducationAisle Sentence Correction Nirvana discusses modifier issues of which, its application and examples in significant detail. If you or someone is interested, PM me your email-id; I can mail the corresponding section.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Mar 2019, 00:10
I would just like to point out that this is a question that pinpoints exceptions to the which 'touch rule' (which must 'touch' the noun it modifies)

The exception is that A vital noun modifier always has logical priority over a non-vital noun modifier, and therefore could prevent a non-vital modifier from “touching” the noun by coming between the non-vital modifier and the noun.

E.g.,
In the last decades of his life, Rimsky-Korsakov produced a massive book on orchestration, which is still read by composition students today.

The modifier “which is still …” doesn’t modify the noun “orchestration” (which is something that can’t be “read”) — instead, it modifies “book”, and it’s fine that it doesn’t touch “book”, because the modifier “on orchestration” is a vital noun modifier — that is, it narrows down and identifies the indefinite noun “book.”

Other examples of exceptions to the Touch Rule involve a short set of words, such as an example phrase or a short intransitive verb phrase, that are correctly placed between a noun and its modifier

The most expensive component of any catalytic convertor is the small quantity of precious metal, such as platinum or rhodium, which acts as the catalyst.

The modifier “which acts as the catalyst” modifies “precious metal,” even though the short example phrase comes between. In #6, the modifier “who made …” modifies “the senator,” even though a short verb intervenes.

Specifically to this example, in 'Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington', we need 'to Susan Huntington' otherwise we would not know which letters, hence, the modified is vital, whereas 'which were written over a period beginning a few years before' may not be vital.
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Re: Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written  [#permalink]

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New post 01 May 2019, 00:05
ywilfred wrote:
Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering her letters to anyone else.


(A) Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering

(B) Dickinson were written over a period that begins a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ended shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber

(C) Dickinson, written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and that ends shortly before Emily’s death in 1886 and outnumbering

(D) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother, ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, and outnumbering

(E) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber


Comma + which : LINK 1 & LINK 2 & LINK 3

https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1998/12/13/268003.html?pageNumber=146
https://www.nytimes.com/1998/12/13/books/two-belles-of-amherst.html

Dickinson's surviving letters to Susan, which began ardently a few years before Susan's marriage and continued almost until the poet's death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else. After an examination of these cryptic messages, Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith have emerged up in arms for Susan. In compiling ''Open Me Carefully'' (which includes more than 20 poems and one letter not previously connected to Susan), they aim to show that the women enjoyed a long, close relationship, one whose workaday exchange of ''letter-poems'' (Susan's term) contributed to ''the texture of their daily life.'' Even more urgent, however, is their intent to champion Susan as Dickinson's ''primary reader'' -- the person they believe exerted the most significant, sustaining influence on Dickinson's poetic and erotic sensibility.


Between A and E -
(A) Dickinson were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumbering
'outnumbering' here seems to be modifying the entire preceding clause, which is not the intended meaning. That they were written over a specific period and that they outnumber her letters to anyone else are two separate things.


(E) Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber
'Which' here correctly modifies Emily Dickinson's letters and not Susan Huntington, as the latter is part of a prepositional phrase and 'which' can only modify nouns / noun phrases.
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Re: I would like to know if which needs to immediately follow  [#permalink]

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Re: I would like to know if which needs to immediately follow   [#permalink] 03 Jun 2019, 23:24

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