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here is a sample sentence that I read in 'Economist'.

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Intern
Joined: 06 May 2012
Posts: 17
Concentration: Finance
GMAT 1: 720 Q46 V42
GPA: 3.33
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06 Aug 2012, 07:21
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here is a sample sentence that I read in 'Economist'.

Radiation causes cancer, which makes it scary. It is undetectable and hard to understand, which leaves people feeling powerless

The first 'which' seems to modify 'Cancer'. however, the second 'which' seems to modify clause 'It is undetectable and hard to understand'. is it correct usage as per GMAT rules or is my understanding that which is modifying the clause wrong?

Thanks,
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Re: can 'which' modify a clause or only a noun the precedes it? [#permalink]

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06 Aug 2012, 07:32

Notice that “which” is relative pronoun and hence can refer to a noun entity only. However, in general English, for example in newspaper articles, more often than not, “which” is used to modify the preceding clause, as in the example presented by you:

It is undetectable and hard to understand, which leaves people feeling powerless.

In this sentence, “which” is modifying the preceding cause. It is accepted in general English writing. However, GMAT does not accept this modification. In GMAT, “which” must always refer to a noun entity, in most cases, the preceding noun entity. In our SC course concept namely "Modifiers - Relative Pronouns", we discuss in details the correct usage of relative pronoun modifers including "which".

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Intern
Joined: 06 May 2012
Posts: 17
Concentration: Finance
GMAT 1: 720 Q46 V42
GPA: 3.33
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 1 [0], given: 4

Re: can 'which' modify a clause or only a noun the precedes it? [#permalink]

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06 Aug 2012, 08:23
Thank you. this is very helpful. now, I understand how to analyse noun modifiers. I am going through your articles which are very helpful.

Thanks,
Re: can 'which' modify a clause or only a noun the precedes it?   [#permalink] 06 Aug 2012, 08:23
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