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# Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau

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Updated on: 30 Jul 2019, 00:00
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Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were

(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were

(E) It is expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

Source : OG2017 SC772

Verbal Question of The Day: Day 223: Sentence Correction

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Heating oil prices, however, are expected to be higher than last year because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year. Still, crude prices have also retreated from their highs in recent weeks.

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Originally posted by cici on 30 Jun 2009, 00:49.
Last edited by hazelnut on 30 Jul 2019, 00:00, edited 3 times in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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15 Feb 2018, 07:38
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Quote:
(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were

The pronoun “they” always jumps off the page at me, and in this case, it seems to refer to “refiners”, the most recent plural. That’s fine.

I’m also OK with the comparison: “refiners are paying… more for crude oil than they were [paying] last year.” I don't think that it’s ideal, but it’s definitely not wrong, and the GMAT would argue that the word “paying” is implied after “were.” Again, I’m not crazy about it, but it conveys the meaning clearly enough.

So let’s keep (A), I guess.

Quote:
(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

The phrase “expected to rise higher this year over last” is definitely a mess. You would never say that prices “rise higher.” They either just rise, or they just ARE higher. I’m also not sure why we would use “over last” instead of “than last.”

The placement of “more” is also really confusing. “More” modifies “pay about \$5 a barrel”, and there’s no good reason to stick the word “more” so far away from the phrase it logically modifies.

But for whatever it’s worth: “they” still seems to refer perfectly reasonably to “refiners.” And the word “did” replaces the verb “pay” (or “paid”, since “did” is past tense). So those things are OK.

But I don’t think we can get over the silly placement of “more” and the "rise higher" mess at the beginning of the sentence. So (B) is out.

Quote:
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(C) has a couple of problems right in the beginning of the sentence. First of all, I can’t understand why we would say “expectations are for… prices to be higher this year.” That’s a horribly indirect way to say that “prices are expected to be higher.” The prices are the focus of the sentence, and it’s best if the prices are the grammatical subject of the sentence.

The comparison is also pretty goofy. “… heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year’s…” The problem here is the possessive “last year’s.” We could say something like “this year’s prices are higher than last year’s”, or we could say that “prices are higher this year than last year.” But it makes no sense to say that “prices are higher this year than last year’s.”

So (C) is gone.

Quote:
(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were

Like (C), (D) starts with an unnecessarily wordy expression: “it is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year…”. That’s not WRONG, exactly, but it’s definitely a crappier way to say “prices are expected to be higher this year…”

There’s also a problem with the phrase “higher this year over last.” You could say that prices were “higher this year than last”, but I can’t understand why we would use “over” in this context.

We also have an extra word that muddies the end of the underlined portion: “refiners are paying… more for crude oil now than what they were last year.” There’s absolutely no reason to include the word “what” in this sentence: “than they were last year” is enough by itself.

That’s enough to let us cross out (D).

Quote:
(E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(E) combines a bunch of problems that we saw in the other answer choices. “It is the expected” doesn't make any sense at all, especially when (A) gives us a much nicer option (“prices are expected to be higher…”). Also, there’s no reason to make “last year’s” possessive – see the explanation for (C) for more on this issue.

Finally, it doesn’t make sense to say that “prices will rise higher this year.” You could say that “prices will rise”, or that “prices will be higher”, but it’s redundant (and damned weird) to say “prices will rise higher.”

So (E) is out, and we’re left with (A).
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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18 Jun 2010, 10:46
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papillon86 wrote:
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher for this year over last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were
(E) It is expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

You've done a good job guys! Let me see if I can help you out with some of the confusion regarding comparisons and ellipses:

A. Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
What is compared here are the times-- "this year" and "last" (meaning "last year"-- this is an ellipses).

When comparing time or place, you have two options for structuring the comparison:

1. Joe studies more at night that he does during the day. (The sentence compares Joe to himself.)

2. Joe studies more at night than during the day. (The sentence compares "at night" to "during the day.")

B. Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

Important Note!! The comparative structure requires that you use "than" after the "--er".

Correct: Tom is older than Bob.
Incorrect: Tom is older compared to/in comparison with/over Bob

You must use "than" after you've used a word ending with --er.

C. Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

You can stop reading as soon as you get to "for heating-oil prices" because that is not a correct description of the the expectations. The expectations are not for prices, but rather that prices will....

Important Note: Do not change a relative clause into a mere prepositional phrase!!

Ex. "I think that chickens fly" (relative clause: that+subject+verb) IS NOT EQUIVALENT TO "I think of chickens flying" (prepositional phrase: of chickens)

D. It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher for this year over last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were

Same problem as B.

E. It is expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

"prices will rise higher this year than last year's" uses ellipses that hide the logic problem. Complete everything that was left out, and the resulting sentence is: "prices will rise higher this year than last year's prices rose. This is not intended meaning of the sentence.

Second, the word "more" is not correctly placed.

Correct: I paid 5 dollars more for my sandwich today than I did yesterday.

Incorrect: I paid 5 dollars for my sandwich more than I did yesterday.

"More" describes \$5 and must therefore be placed next to \$5.
##### General Discussion
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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30 Jun 2009, 01:08
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A IMO
rise and higher together are redundant - B/E are out
last year's doesn't make a parallel consturction- C is out
and between A and D , D is wordy I think. Besides, using 'than' seems to be more correct than 'over'

What's OA?
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2010, 19:15
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Example of ellipsis

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last [year's prices] ----> Bulls eye

A is correct. "expected to be" is correct idiom. and "paying" is correct.

hence A.

C: is comparing expectations of this year vs the last year's. change of meaning. OUT

A it is.
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2010, 23:42
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Yes by the process of elimination we reach A.

Can some one explain what exactly are we comparing here and whether the things being compared are parallel.

IMO we are comparing the prices last year with the prices this year and the years.
From a parallelism perspective is A correct? If yes How?

Thanks
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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18 Jun 2010, 08:56

Can someone please explain why C is wrong. I thought the comparison is between this year's heating oil prices and last year's heating oil prices.

option C

Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's [heating-oil prices].....................correct comparison

option A

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last [dont we need last year's heating-oil prices?]

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were

(B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

(D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher for this year over last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were

(E) It is expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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18 Jun 2010, 13:41
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I have faced problems with these kinds of questions often...finally after reading Sara's note I am clear on how to handle these problems... would like to present a summary of my understanding to clear potential doubts in the minds of people who are struggling with these concepts...
---------------------------------------------
It is not correct to say -

HEATING OIL PRICES THIS YEAR ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHER THAN LAST YEAR – this way we are comparing heating oil prices of this year with the LAST YEAR (an illogical comparison) where as what we intend to compare are the prices of heating oil in each of the two years).

So we must rephrase it as - HEATING OIL PRICES THIS YEAR ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHER THAN THE HEATING OIL PRICE OF LAST YEAR

WHICH CAN BE ELLIPSED TO

HEATING OIL PRICES THIS YEAR ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHER THAN LAST YEAR’S [PRICE]
OR HEATING OIL PRICES THIS YEAR ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHER THAN THEY WERE LAST YEAR

Another form similar to the one above is -
THIS YEAR, THE HEATING OIL PRICES ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHER THAN THEY WERE LAST YEAR (NOT HIGHER THAN LAST YEAR)
Or ellipsed form THIS YEAR, THE HEATING OIL PRICES ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHER THAN LAST YEAR’S [HEATING OIL PRICE]

Now if we reword the whole sentence as below – (we have removed THIS YEAR from the first part of the sentence and positioned it AFTER the main verb (are)

HEATING OIL PRICES ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHER THIS YEAR THAN LAST
Now the comparison focus shifts from Price to Time frame (this year versus last)
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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07 Jul 2010, 07:35
Quote:
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher th is year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

Hi everyone .......

Thanks a lot for such a detailed explanation!!

There is just one thing that is still bugging me:-
In option A ----- "Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were" last year,

shouldn't there be "paying" AGAIN after "were" to make it as:
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were paying last year.

How can we hide "paying" ? Is this also ellipses ?? If so, kindly explain as i have NOT understood this well !!

Thanks so much
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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11 Jul 2010, 03:27
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Hi tgtharvard,

Yes, this is ellipses. Since "paying" already appears in the sentence, there is no need to repeat it after the word "were".

Best,
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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11 Jul 2010, 04:36
SaraiGMAXonline wrote:
Hi tgtharvard,

Yes, this is ellipses. Since "paying" already appears in the sentence, there is no need to repeat it after the word "were".

Best,
Sarai

Dear Sarai ....

Thanks for clarifying that ..... !!

And now that it is indeed an ellipses, please bear with me as i have another doubt that comes to light if option A is correct. Please help me with this one as well !!! ....... Sorry for the trouble!!!! :-

In the last part of this sentence:
Quote:
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

Who does THEY refer to ????

Isn't it a case of unclear antecedent reference as "they" could refer to both "Heating-Oil prices" as well as "Refiners" ???

I know that the use of "were" makes it refer to "prices" but if we had used "did" instead of "were" it could as easily have referred to "refiners". In any case, the use of "were" or "did" doesnt stop "they from being called "an ambigios referrent", does it ?!?!
I hope i have made my doubt clear and not confused you all further !!

And if that is NOT the case, then could u please explain as to where am I faulting in my logic !!!!

Thanks a ton ...

Sam
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11 Jul 2010, 04:51
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Hi Sam,

The issue of ambiguous pronouns is more a matter of logic than a GMAT 'trick'. If the pronoun has more than one logical referent, there is ambiguity.

Ex. Computer A is next to computer B, and it is broken.

In this sentence both computers are logical referents for "it". When you are presented with an ambiguous pronoun you will have trouble understanding what your sentence is saying. A correct answer will be a version of the sentence that is easier for you to understand because it is clearer.

Ex. Computer A, which is next to computer B, is broken.

In the problem at hand, "refiners" are the only word that make sense as the subject for the verb "were (paying)". Nothing else in the sentence has the ability to pay, so there is no problem with ambiguity here.

Hope that helps! Lots of luck!!!

-Sarai
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 31 Oct 2010, 22:46
11
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A.

This is a comparison question I often have trouble with, but I will do my best to explain.

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than (heating-oil prices were) last (year) Parentheses are omitted. - correct compoarison
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last year's or last's (Heating-oil prices) -wrong comparison. We are comparing this year to last year.
If you want to use last year's, we must write
This year's heating-oil prices are expected to be higher than last year's or last's -correct

Let's say Heating-oil prices are just A. We can rewrite
A is expected to be higher this year than (A was) last (year). - correct
A is expected to be higher this year than last's (A) - wrong as this sentence is comparing this year to last year's A.
This year's A is expected to be higher than last year's/last's A - correct

B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
Higher over is unidiomatic. Higher...than is correct.
rise higher is redundant.

C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's becuase refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
are for heating-oil prices to be is wordy and confusing
last year's should be last year for the same reason mentioned in A.
are paying should be followed by they were

D) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher this year over last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were
It is the expectation that is unnecessarily wordy. It is expected that is better.
'higher....over' is wrong. 'higher...than' is correct.

E) It is the expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
I think that you made a typo. Answer choice must be 'It is expected that' not 'it is the expected that,' which is correct.
rise higher is redundant.
last year's is wrong for the same reason explained earlier in answer A.

Originally posted by scheol79 on 31 Oct 2010, 21:51.
Last edited by scheol79 on 31 Oct 2010, 22:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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20 Aug 2011, 09:37
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abhicoolmax wrote:
Why "they were" is correct in A? Why not they did? In-fact, should we be repeating the entire verb when we change the tense - Re: MGMAT SC?

This is a very good question. The general strategy followed is, whenever you come across an ellipsis (ommitting a part of the sentence if there is no ambiguity) the best way to check is to complete the sentence and see if the verb is correct.

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were paying ...

Vs

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they did paying ...

As you can see the second version does not make sense (it should have been pay for did to be correct).

However if the original sentence is reworded as

Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners paid about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they did pay ... => did is correct here. (I agree this version does not make logical sense , just for illustration purposes).

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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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26 Dec 2012, 10:50
Ellipsis is at its full play in this topic. Let me paraphrase it, with the elliptical elements in parenthesis.

A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year
than last (year) because refiners are paying about \$5 a
barrel more for crude oil than they were (paying) last year.
One can now see how the comparisons are smugly fitting in.

2.) It is expected that heating-oil prices will rise
higher this year than last year's because refiners
pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than
they did

A cue for the correctness of the comparison can be had from the placement of the comparison -marker such as than etc. The comparison marker is place placed either next or prior to what it compares. Here in this case, than is placed next to this year and therefore the comparison should legally appear with a similar feature such as last year and not last year’s.

Another example

Even though Béla Bartók’s music has proved less popular than Igor Stravinsky’s and less influential than Arnold Schonberg’s, it is no less important.
(A) Stravinsky’s and less influential than Arnold Schonberg’s, it
(B) Stravinsky’s and less influential than Arnold Schonberg’s, he
(C) Stravinsky’s is and less influential than Arnold Schonberg’s is, it
(D) Stravinsky and not as influential as Arnold Schonberg, he
(E) Stravinsky and not as influential as Arnold Schonberg, it

Now the comparison- marker ‘than’ is placed just before the Arnold Schonberg’s, implying that something that belongs to Stravinsky is being compared. And the text says that Béla Bartók’s music is compared with Arnold Schonberg’s music. Here music is elliptical

Hope Chocie E is no serious contender
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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25 Sep 2013, 10:32
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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04 Jan 2014, 10:47
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papillon86 wrote:
Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher th is year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were last year.

(A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil than they were
(8) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher this year over last because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(C) Expectations are for heating-oil prices to be higher this year than last year's because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did
(d) It is the expectation that heating-oil prices will be higher for this year over last because refiners are paying about \$5 a barrel more for crude oil now than what they were
(E) It is expected that heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's because refiners pay about \$5 a barrel for crude oil more than they did

When we have these types of SC questions, where the underline portion consists of > 90% of the text, we need to be pretty methodical, CAREFUL and really, really, really understand the intended meaning. In this case, the fact that "last year" is not underline helps us in picking the right choice. So: focus on options that end in words that correctly "flow" into the words last year.

A) Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher... because refiners... are paying more.... THAN they were... [last year]. Than they were flows nicely into last year, and "they" correctly refers to refiners. Also, there's no ambiguity and words are not positioned in wrong places. So far so good, let's check the other options.

B) Heating-oil prices are expected to rise higher.. STOP. Rise higher? What? That implies some force will elevate prices so they physically rise above their current position. Obviously, this makes no sense.. Even if we ignore rise higher, "5 dollars a barrel for crude oil more" is wrong. More should come after 5 dollars otherwise more incorrectly refers to crude oil and not dollars. So, the errors here are grammatical. Notice that "they did" nicely flows into "last year" because they did refers to refiners.. Still, B is wrong for the grammatical errors.

C) "Expectations are for" seems like a perfect trap for certain non-native test-takers, but people that have had extensive exposure to american english know this sounds all types of wrong. Expectations are "for" nothing at all, frankly.. Something(s) is/are EXPECTED, or something is expected OF someone else, but not "for". Also, Im not sure but I believe "this year's" refers to expectations and not prices (it doesn't matter though, the option has so many other errors). And again, we have an error with "more" at the end of the sentence.

D) Again with the weird use of expectation.. "It is the expectation that" refers to who? Who expects? this option implies some sort of universal, objective expectation. Also "will rise higher" again implies prices will be elevated past their current, more down-to-earth position. That's clearly not the author's intent.

E) this is the best "wrong" answer, but it's still riddled with wrong elements. "rise higher" is wrong, "5 dollars for oil more" is wrong, and Im not sure (but it's just a minor issue) that "year's" is used correctly either.

Anyway.. A is clearly right because it is not riddled with the grammatical/meaning errors that the other options are.
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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21 May 2014, 12:38
Can please someone explain, under what circumstances “they were” is right in this case?

Isn’t it referring to “refiners are paying”?
Therefore “refiners are paying 5\$ more, than they did last year”, instead of “… than they were” last year?

Were payed sounds totally weird to me, even if agree with the rest of the official answer
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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21 May 2014, 21:53
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holdem wrote:
Can please someone explain, under what circumstances “they were” is right in this case?

Isn’t it referring to “refiners are paying”?
Therefore “refiners are paying 5\$ more, than they did last year”, instead of “… than they were” last year?

Were payed sounds totally weird to me, even if agree with the rest of the official answer

Hi holdem,

It’s a case of ellipsis and the word missing is ‘paying’ not ‘paid’. So, the verb is ‘were paying’ not ‘were paid’.

Let’s take two simplified versions of the sentence to understand the difference in the meaning conveyed by ‘were’ and ‘did’ in this context.

Refiners are paying 5\$ more for crude oil than they were (paying) last year.

The past continuous tense (were) tells us that this action of paying happens weekly/monthly/quarterly. So, when we compare ‘are paying’ with ‘were paying’ it means that the payments were made in the same interval last year as well.

Refiners are paying 5\$ more for crude oil than they did (pay) last year.

The simple past tense (did) here tells us that this action happened once in the past. So, the refiners are paying 5\$ more than they paid last year. It means that last year there was only one payment of X dollars and this year the refiners are paying ‘X+5’ dollars weekly/monthly/quarterly.

Hope this helps!
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Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau  [#permalink]

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06 Sep 2014, 16:42
Despite going through the whole thread, i'm stuck on one specific point about option E. I can see why E is wrong because of the usage of "more than" but I picked E because of "heating-oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's..."

I felt that "year's" had to be a possessive because we are saying that " oil prices will rise higher this year than last year's oil prices" and we are NOT saying that "prices will higher than last year" because that would mean that we are comparing prices to year which is illogical.

Can someone please explain why my analysis is incorrect?
Re: Heating-oil prices are expected to be higher this year than last becau   [#permalink] 06 Sep 2014, 16:42

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