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# Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were

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Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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23 Sep 2004, 16:54
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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
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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16 Aug 2016, 07:23
Hi everyone

Nice discussion here.

The comma + verb-ing modifier (ending) modifies marriage right?

Although is parallel to beginning, it should not be preceded by a comma.

Thanks folks!

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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2016, 06:34
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velozjose wrote:
Hi everyone

Nice discussion here.

The comma + verb-ing modifier (ending) modifies marriage right?

Although is parallel to beginning, it should not be preceded by a comma.

Thanks folks!

Sent from my iPhone using GMAT Club Forum mobile app

Hi
In choice (D), ending acts as a Verb-ing Modifier.
Point 1. Verb-ing modifier always modifies the preceding clause, as in this case, the highlighter part :
(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

Point 2. Replacing Relative Pronoun "which" with Letters, the sentence becomes:
(D) Dickinson, Letters 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
I suppose when you referred to parallelism, you meant "beginning" and "outnumbering".
So, Letter were written over a period beginning and outnumbering her letters to anyone else.
The statement above does not make sense and hence is incorrect.

Personal recommendation: Enroll for e-gmat free trial course, they cover the Verb-ing and Verb-ed modifiers beautifully.
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Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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02 Sep 2016, 06:06
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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

[Reveal] Spoiler:
Parallelism; Grammatical construction

The main point of the sentence is that Dickinson’s letters to her sister-in-law outnumber her letters to anyone else. To emphasize this point, outnumber should be the main verb, and the description introduced by the passive verb were written needs to be changed from a main clause to an adjectival phrase.

A The long, wordy opening clause gives too much emphasis to the period when Dickinson’s letters were written; it is unclear what outnumbering refers to.

B The verbs describing the letter-writing period (begins and ended) are not parallel.

C The verbs describing the letter-writing period need to be in parallel form and agree in tense—e.g., beginning and ending or that began and that ended; this is a fragment because it lacks a main verb for letters.

D The lack of a main verb for the subject of the sentence, letters, makes this a fragment.

E Correct. The information about the period when Dickinson’s letters were written is contained in an adjectival phrase set off by commas, and the main verb outnumber refers clearly to letters.

Why in option E, 'which' is inserted directly after Dickinson. Shouldn't that "which" modify "Dickinson" as it is placed just after the noun, rather than letter? Please clarify this doubt. Thank you.

Last edited by Guest on 23 May 2017, 08:12, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were writte [#permalink]

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02 Sep 2016, 06:54
Which cannot be used for a person(here Susan Huntington Dickinson). Who/whom are used to modify a person. Hence "which" in option E is for the letters.
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Re: Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were writte [#permalink]

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02 Sep 2016, 06:59
Thank you for replying. Oh yes! I overlooked that. However, isn't it that when 'which' is used, it ALWAYS modifies the word just behind it?
In this case 'letters' is very far from 'which'. Although logically there isn't anything else to which 'which' might refer to. But isn't that grammatically wrong?

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Re: Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were writte [#permalink]

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02 Sep 2016, 07:04
occasionally, when it is completely unambiguous, "which" can refer to a whole NOUN PHRASE that immediately precedes the comma.
in this case, this noun phrase is "X's letters to Y". (note that this noun phrase, as a unit, does immediately precede the comma.)

also, note the complete lack of grammatical ambiguity: "which" can't refer to Dickinson, who is a person, and it's also followed by a plural verb. both of these pieces of evidence point to the noun phrase "X's letters to Y".
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Re: Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were writte [#permalink]

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02 Sep 2016, 07:07
Right. It's clear now.
Thank you so much for your time and guidance.

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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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27 Oct 2016, 23:51
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

In A, Emily Dickinson's ............were written......., Outnumbering.......(we have sub + Verb , verbing....which demands cause and effect. No cause and effect) Out
In B, period than begins.....(period is over, so wrong tense)
In C, D and E

Subject is followed be a comma, So another comma is required and after second comma verb must be present(Emily Dickinson's....Dickinson,........)

In C, second comma is missing, so verb is missing. Out
in D, after second comma 'and outnumbering' is present, No verb. Out

Therefore E.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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02 Nov 2016, 19:09
As the answer is option E, the correct sentence turns out to be :

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.

My question is :

In the phrase 'outnumber her letters to anyone else', what does the pronoun 'her' refer to ?

As per the meaning, 'her' seems to refer to Emily Dickinson. Can it refer to Emily Dickinson even though this name has not been specified as a proper noun ?

I thought every pronoun should have a clear antecedent and can not refer to a possessive form ?

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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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04 Nov 2016, 00:30
AK700 wrote:
As the answer is option E, the correct sentence turns out to be :

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.

My question is :

In the phrase 'outnumber her letters to anyone else', what does the pronoun 'her' refer to ?

As per the meaning, 'her' seems to refer to Emily Dickinson. Can it refer to Emily Dickinson even though this name has not been specified as a proper noun ?

I thought every pronoun should have a clear antecedent and can not refer to a possessive form ?

Hi AK700, while in this case, the possessive pronoun her is very aptly referring to possessive Noun (Emily Dickinson’s), GMAT is actually very flexible with this.

So, an object pronoun can refer to a subject noun, Object pronoun can refer to possessive noun, Subject pronoun can refer to possessive noun, and Possessive Pronoun can refer to non-possessive noun.

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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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05 Jan 2017, 23:11
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.

Emily's letters is the subject followed by two verbs: were written..............outnumber.
E is the best choice. Got confused with the usage of 'which'.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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05 Jan 2017, 23:17
One more thing.

'comma+ which' construction does not add essential information in a sentence that is NECESSARY to add. Even if we drop ', which' in E, the sentence makes complete sense.

.................Dickinson outnumber her letters to anyone else.

There is no ambiguity as to what the subject is.....
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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07 Jan 2017, 10:24
Nightmare007 wrote:
A and E can be sized down - while, A has error of letters ... outnumbering . E has dikson, which ??? awkward modifier. please help .

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.

Subject: Emily Dickinson’s letters
Verb: were written and outnumber

(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

We know that ‘which’ adds information in a sentence that even if removed does not affect the construction of the sentence. The sentence would still make sense.

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson outnumber her letters to anyone else.
Now the main verb is: Outnumber

(‘Which’ takes the verb ‘were written’.)

If we see, the sentence still makes sense.

You would be finding it awkward because ‘which’ modifier modifies the noun immediately preceding it but notice that in this sentence ‘which’ can jump over ‘to Susan Hutington’ to refer to letters because this phrase cannot be put anywhere else in the sentence. Try it.

I hope it helps.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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09 Jan 2017, 06:06
bpiyush wrote:
Does the usage of which in the option E is correct?

Yes, it is alright. This is an example of an exception of the modifier touch rule. Manhattan SC Guide summarizes the common exceptions. Following is an excerpt from the book:

In general, noun modifiers must touch their nouns. However, there are a few exceptions to the Touch Rule.
1. A “mission-critical” modifier falls between. This modifier is often an Of phrase that defines the noun. The less important modifier refers to the noun plus the first modifier.
Right: He had a way OF DODGING OPPONENTS that impressed the scouts.
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Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson [#permalink]

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14 Mar 2017, 12:18
Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan's marriage to Emiy's brother and ending shortly before Emily's death in 1186, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

The sentence above is correct. Can anyone help explain why the use of which is correct here? Isn't the general GMAT rule that "which" should refer to the noun directly preceeding the comma?
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Re: Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson [#permalink]

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14 Mar 2017, 12:27
Hi! I'm having a bit of difficulty in distinguishing between the different uses of "which" in sentence correction. I was under the impression that "which" had to directly refer to the the noun preceeding the comma e.g. ..the house, which was quite large, had many windows. However, in the example in my post this is not the case. Can you help?!! Many thanks!
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Re: Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson [#permalink]

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14 Mar 2017, 21:14
Cez005 wrote:
Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan's marriage to Emiy's brother and ending shortly before Emily's death in 1186, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

"Which" refers to the word "letters" correctly. The shorter modifier "to Susan Huntington Dickinson" can be placed before the longer modifier which in this case "which were .... in 1186".
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Re: Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson [#permalink]

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14 Mar 2017, 22:38
Cez005 wrote:
Hi! I'm having a bit of difficulty in distinguishing between the different uses of "which" in sentence correction. I was under the impression that "which" had to directly refer to the the noun preceeding the comma e.g. ..the house, which was quite large, had many windows. However, in the example in my post this is not the case. Can you help?!! Many thanks!
It's not necessary for which to refer to the closest noun. For example, in the house in the woods, which can be seen from here, which can refer either to house or to woods.
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Re: Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson [#permalink]

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15 Mar 2017, 19:43
Quote:
Thanks Ajitesh. In your example, is there not ambiguity in whether it is the house or the woods that "can be seen from here."? Wouldn't the following be better?

The house, which can be seen from here, lies in the woods.

That would be the clearest possibility.

However, in Ajitesh's example, there is genuine ambiguity about the noun that "which" refers to. The GMAT is unlikely to give you something quite that ambiguous. The question you're asking about differs from his example in a significant way.

Reposting the question for clarity:

Emily Dickinson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan's marriage to Emiy's brother and ending shortly before Emily's death in 1186, outnumber her letters to anyone else."

Here, the noun immediately before "which" is Susan Huntington Dickinson -- a person.

However, "which" can only refer to a thing.

The noun that "which" can logically refer to is Dickinson's letters, so there really isn't any ambiguity here.

In addition, as uHCWB pointed out, the modifier (prepositional phrase) "to Susan Huntington Dickinson" forms part of the complete antecedent. As a result, "which" is acceptable. The meaning is clear enough for it to work.
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Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were [#permalink]

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22 Mar 2017, 09:49
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sayantanc2k wrote:
Cez005 wrote:
Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan's marriage to Emiy's brother and ending shortly before Emily's death in 1186, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

The sentence above is correct. Can anyone help explain why the use of which is correct here? Isn't the general GMAT rule that "which" should refer to the noun directly preceding the comma?

Your query has been answered by the Jamboree expert. You may also find another explanation here:
https://gmatclub.com/forum/emily-dickin ... l#p1786793

Please do not open new threads for questions that already exist on the forum - merging topics.

So. "which" can be used when the "which" part of the sentence is removed and the remaining parts of the sentence still make sense. Is this the only case when "which" can be used where it doesn't refer to the preceding noun?

Emily Dickenson's letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson outnumber her letters to anyone else.

Removed: "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 1186"
Re: Emily Dickinsons letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson were   [#permalink] 22 Mar 2017, 09:49

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