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In good years, the patchwork of green fields that surround

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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 02 May 2010, 09:48
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Hey All,

This is a very bizarre question, and I'm afraid I have to disagree with everyone who's saying the answer is "obviously" A. I see nothing wrong with B (which makes this problematic as an official answer). Also, there are serious problems with GMAT Tiger's explanation, which many people have been describing as sensible.

He wrote:

A is correct. "That" in the sentence refers to "green fields", which is plural and so does "that" too. [What in the world does this mean? How can something "do 'that'"?

When "that" is plural, the verb that follows "that" should be also plural (surround), which is only in A and D. [THAT is a relative pronoun, and has no plurality. There is no such thing as a singular or plural "that".

"many of them" is better than "many of whom". -- [This is NOT true. "Them" is a subject pronoun and "whom" is an object pronoun. They have totally different uses. In fact, our ears prefer "them", so GMAT will often encourage you towards "whom".]

OKAY! Now that we've dealt with that bit of confusion, we can look at the question.

In good years, the patchwork of green fields that surround the San Joaquin Valley town bustles with farm workers, many of them in the area just for the season.

(A) surround the San Joaquin Valley town bustles with farm workers, many of them
PROBLEM: The writing of this sentence makes it impossible to work out what the subject of surrounds is. It could be fields (because relative pronouns like "that" typically modify whatever they touch), but it could also be patchwork (because "of green fields" is a modifier, just as we could say the King of Spades IS a good card). This sentence is extra confusing because "surround" and "bustle" are both verbs. The A folks in the room seem to want to argue that the "fields" surround the valley, but the "patchwork" bustles. But why? The same subject could just as easily do both.

(B) surrounds the San Joaquin Valley town bustles with farm workers, many of whom are
CORRECT: Whom is correct here, because we need the object of a preposition ("of"). I prefer this answer myself, but I see no actual reason to cross it off.

(C) surround the San Joaquin Valley town bustles with farm workers, many of who are
PROBLEM: You can't say "many of who", you need an object pronoun to be the object of the preposition "of".

(D) surround the San Joaquin Valley town bustle with farm workers, many of which
PROBLEM: This verb arrangement is odd, as is "many of which". We prefer who/whom for people.

(E) surrounds the San Joaquin Valley town bustles with farm workers, many are
PROBLEM: This starts a new sentence after the comma, which isn't allowed.

Hope that helps, and I'm definitely up for argument! : )

-tommy
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jun 2010, 08:11
doesnt 'that' make the object of preposition the subject of the next clause?

Discrimination in wages paid in occupations that are predominantly male over the predominantly female have given rise to substantial differentials between the wage of housepainters and secretaries and between the wages of parking-lot attendants and library assistants.

in the example above though the subject is 'disrimination', 'that' makes 'occupations' the subject of the next clause.

PS: i have seen dimilar instances that i am not able to find with preposition 'of' also. please explain
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jun 2010, 10:58
Hey Rosh,

The confusion comes when you want to modify a noun with two modifiers at once. They can't both touch. For example, "The cup of water, which is in my hand, is hot."

Both "of water" and "which is in my hand" are modifying "cup". But they can't both touch. So we allow "cup of water" to be considered ONE THING, which is then modified by "which is in my hand". This is why you can't simply argue that every modifier touches the exact word it modifies, because it may touch another modifier.

Does that help?

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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jun 2010, 12:29
yeah i do know that in X of Y, which......; the 'which' USUALLY refers to X ( as u guys in manhattan call it mission critical modifier) , but can the same yardstick be applied to 'that', which is an essential modifier. is it better to ALWAYS treat 'X of Y' clause like a noun phrase? this way there would be no ambiguity what so ever
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New post 18 Jun 2010, 13:03
Hey Rosh,

Yeah, I'd say treat any X of Y like one thing, but I don't know how far you can stretch that: "The house that I bought from Dave, which is on fire, was a bad purchase."

Here, the essential clause is necessary, but then the "which" clearly modifies HOUSE still, not Dave, even though it's touching. I'll need to re-read our official literature on mission critical modifiers, but my understanding would be that my example sentence is fine.

Hope that helps!

-t
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New post 19 Jun 2010, 01:48
Generally, a relative clause (a clause starting with 'that'/'which'/'who'/'whom'/'whose') should come as close as possible to the word it modifies. The GMAT SC often uses relative clauses inside a prepositional phrase, and this is a structure you should be prepared to see on the exam!

Ex.
Incorrect: One of the students who is in my class is taking her exam on Friday.

Main clause: One... is taking...
Relative/Subordinate clause: who is in my class --> SHOULD REFER TO THE STUDENTS

Correct: One of the students who are in my class is taking her exam on Friday.

One [of the students {who are in my class}] is taking....

Thus, the prepositional phrase ('of the students') describes the subject of the main clause ('One'). The relative clause ('who are in my class') defines the noun inside the prepositional phrase ('students').

However, sometimes the relative clause is separated from the referent (the word to which it refers) by a prepositional phrase, and then you have to pay attention to the intended meaning of the sentence to understand what the referent should be.

Ex. The erosion of the Fortland shores, which has reached an unprecedented rate this year, will eventually result in the destruction of much of the marine wildlife in the area.

Clearly, the erosion and not the shores has reached a rate, and the prepositional phrase ('of Fortland shores') should be skipped as descriptive info.

I hope that helps!

Best,
Sarai
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jun 2010, 16:54
Hey Sarai,

Sorry to butt in, but can you reference any specific GMAT question that actually utilizes the structure you described there? I can't say I've ever seen it show up on a test, but I'm open to the possibility. In my experience, GMAT would fix the weirdness some other way (i.e. "One of my students is taking her exam..."). Perhaps a cleaner example, because it changes up the verb (instead of using is/is), might be:

One of the songs that blow my mind is "Take the A Train".

Again though, we could fix it by writing "'Take the A Train' is a song that blows my mind." Or something like that. Thoughts?

-t
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TommyWallach wrote:
Hey Sarai,

Sorry to butt in, but can you reference any specific GMAT question that actually utilizes the structure you described there? I can't say I've ever seen it show up on a test, but I'm open to the possibility. In my experience, GMAT would fix the weirdness some other way (i.e. "One of my students is taking her exam..."). Perhaps a cleaner example, because it changes up the verb (instead of using is/is), might be:

One of the songs that blow my mind is "Take the A Train".

Again though, we could fix it by writing "'Take the A Train' is a song that blows my mind." Or something like that. Thoughts?

-t


Hey Tommy,

Yeah, in the Verbal Review, problem #42. The original goes,

"...the AM-1 is one of the many new satellites that is a part of 15 years effort..."

"is a part" is corrected to read "are a part" because it is the satellites that are a part, not the 'one'. It's not a highly common structure, but I know I've seen it tested before, and students should keep their eyes open for it, paying close attention to intended meaning.

-Sarai

p.s. Couldn't agree with you more on "Take the A train"! :wink:
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jun 2010, 17:28
Hey Sarai,

Thanks much for throwing that up. I think I just don't like the sample, because logic would argue against "students who are in my class", since it's much cleaner as a simple prep phrase "students in my class". But the GMAT example you gave doesn't have that issue, so it definitely illustrates this better.

Thanks!

-t
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jul 2010, 13:40
So the conclusion here is that in a "X of Y that verb" construction, that can modify either X or Y depending on the meaning of the sentence, and therefore the verb can be either singular or plural depending on the referent.
Is that correct?

The same happens with a "X of Y, which" construcion.

Many thanks to Saray and Tommy.
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New post 21 Jul 2010, 23:13
That's absolutely right noboru! You summarized the issue well.
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2010, 04:54
SaraiGMAXonline wrote:
That's absolutely right noboru! You summarized the issue well.


So, in the problem at issue...what is your take? Do you agree with Tommy's B explanation, or do you support the supposed OA A?

Thanks.
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New post 30 Jul 2010, 05:48
Guys, don't go crazy over a stupid question..

Whenever it is of the form "A of B", the subject-verb is that of A and not of B.

Hence, in this case "patchwork of green fields" implies singular. Hence, surrounds.. B is the option.
http://www.beatthegmat.com/many-of-them ... t8979.html.

At times the OA is wrong.. and the most popular places where OA is wrong are Paper Based SETS or the 1000 series questions..
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 01 Aug 2010, 20:37
I can show at least 10 explanations from OG where it stands with similar answers to patchwork of green fields that sorrounds...

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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 13 Sep 2010, 07:38
Its official.. OA is wrong.. the answer is B.
1) the patchwork is singular
2) whom is required to join the two sentences
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 20 Sep 2010, 10:46
SaraiGMAXonline wrote:
Ex. The erosion of the Fortland shores, which has reached an unprecedented rate this year, will eventually result in the destruction of much of the marine wildlife in the area.

Clearly, the erosion and not the shores has reached a rate, and the prepositional phrase ('of Fortland shores') should be skipped as descriptive info.

I hope that helps!

Best,
Sarai


Hi Sarai, would disagree with you a bit on that; 'which' would always have a (very strong) tendency to modify the immediate word preceding it. The reason why 'which' just cannot modify "Fortland shores" in this case is because "grammar" doesn't allow it to - the usage of "has". If 'which' was to modify "Fortland shores", clearly the auxiliary to use would have been "have". So, logic (Clearly, the erosion and not the shores has reached a rate) has little role to play here.

Have you come across any other official GMAT questions where 'which' is not modifying the nearest word (even if "grammatically" it can)?
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New post 20 Sep 2010, 13:23
Green fields can never be a subject in this case -

Rule - Noun after preposition 'of' can never be subject the phrase.

patchwork has to be subject. A can't be correct answer choice. Question is bit vague. Use of whom in B as well makes it not 100% correct..But if we have to select one, go for B. Thanks.
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Re: 379 out of 1000 [#permalink]

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New post 31 Dec 2010, 04:58
went with B. i think 'are' at the end of B sounds better than A.
many of whom are in the area for this season.
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New post 07 Jan 2011, 10:13
IMO -B s.v. ag. B,E left
B is more clear
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New post 14 Feb 2011, 12:00
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While the sentence has a singular subject ("patchwork"), the antecedent of "surround/s" (which is part of the relative clause "that surround/s the San Joaquin Valley town") can be either "fields" or "patchwork" depending on the author's intention. Thus, since there's nothing grammatically amiss with either "surround" or "surrounds," you can reject neither and must instead consider other parts of the sentence to eliminate the four wrong options.

Eliminate D right away, because both "bustle" and "which" are wrong--"farm workers" being people and not inanimate objects. Get rid of C because "who" should be "whom" (object of a preposition) and E because "many are" would create a comma splice, which is when two complete sentences are connected by only a comma.

We're left with A and B, then, which differ in just two ways: (1) "surround"/"surrounds" and (2) "them"/"whom are." (1) won't help us winnow the choices, so (2) must be our final determinant. Which is better, "many of them in the area just for the season" or "many of whom are in the area just for the season"? Well, both are grammatical, so how do we decide between them? What's the difference between them? A is briefer by one word. That's pretty much it. A is therefore the better choice because it is more concise--its verb is understood ("many of them [being] in the area just for the season"), whereas B's is explicit.

It's a fine distinction, no doubt--but A is slightly better than B.

-C. Rhudy
Re: SC- Good Years   [#permalink] 14 Feb 2011, 12:00

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