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Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon

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Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.


(A) Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is

(B) Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is

(C) Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become

(D) Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become

(E) Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,


Verbal Question of The Day: Day 216: Sentence Correction


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OG16 SC113
Category: Rhetorical construction; Logical predication

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Originally posted by marine on 20 Sep 2004, 05:59.
Last edited by hazelnut on 28 Sep 2018, 21:58, edited 4 times in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 08 Feb 2018, 23:02
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This is another question that’s at the top of my list of the most unsatisfying official GMAT SC questions ever produced.

I’ll be honest: my first instinct is to eliminate the correct answer because of pronoun ambiguity, but that’s a bad idea: pronoun ambiguity is not an absolute rule on the GMAT (more on that in this video), and there are far worse errors in the other answer choices.

And that’s classic GMAT right there: there aren’t a ton of absolute RULES that ALWAYS apply on the GMAT, but it’s always true that you’ll want to eliminate the four worst answer choices. Whatever you’re left with might not be great, but it’ll be correct enough.

Quote:
A. Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is

That “it” jumps out at me right away. It just doesn’t seem awesome: “it” could refer to “conversation” or “tool” or “telephone” or “substitute” or “radio” or “conception of the radio.” Actually, since “it” is the subject of the second full clause in the sentence, that pronoun most likely refers to the subject of the first full clause, “Marconi’s conception of the radio.” (Again, more on these pronoun issues in this video.)

Of course, “it” logically needs to refer to “radio.” So we definitely have a pronoun ambiguity situation on our hands, but pronoun ambiguity isn’t an absolute crime. So I wouldn’t eliminate (A) based only on the pronoun issue.

But there’s also a meaning issue with (A): “Marconi’s conception… was as a substitute for the telephone…” Wait, no. Logically, the radio is the substitute for the telephone – the “conception of the radio” definitely is not the substitute.

So I’m not 100% comfortable eliminating (A) based on the pronoun ambiguity alone, but the logical problem at the beginning of the sentence gives us a reason to ditch (A) with confidence.

Quote:
B. Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is

This is such a confusing mess that it’s hard for me to explain why it’s a confusing mess. The whole problem is “but which is”, a phrase that seems to be (awkwardly) referring to the telephone. But that doesn’t make sense: “the telephone… but which is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.”

Nope. It’s the radio that's the tool for communicating with a large, public audience – not the telephone. If we switched “which” to “it” (or “instead it”), then we might be OK, but (B) in its current form just doesn’t make sense.

Quote:
C. Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become

Like (A), (C) has some potential pronoun ambiguity: “it” would refer to “the radio” or “private conversation” or “substitute” or “telephone.” But again: pronoun ambiguity is NOT automatically wrong on the GMAT. And in this case, I think you could argue that the “it” isn’t even all that confusing.

And the thing is, I don’t see any other problems. The modifier “that could substitute for the telephone” seems to correctly modify “tool for private conversation.” I’m OK with the verb tense at the end of the underlined portion of the sentence: “[the radio] has become a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.” Sure, I guess we could say that the radio started to become a tool for mass communication long ago, and continues to become a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

Honestly, I’d be happier picking an answer choice that doesn’t have the pronoun ambiguity problem, but ONLY IF that answer choice doesn’t have more severe problems. (C) at least makes sense, and the pronoun ambiguity isn’t enough to eliminate it. So let’s keep the little booger for now.

Quote:
D. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become

(D) has nice, clear problems. The modifier beginning with “which” is just plain wrong: “which has become a tool for communicating with a large, public audience” seems to modify “the telephone”, and that makes no sense at all.

And for whatever it’s worth, “conceived… to be” is not the correct idiom. It should be “conceived… as.” But don’t lose too much sleep over idioms, since there are around 25,000 of them in English.

Anyway, (D) is out.

Quote:
E. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,

For starters, we have the same idiom problem as in (D). But then there’s just a messy construction later in the sentence: “Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone…., other than what it is, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.”

Huh? “Other than what it is”? That’s a mess, and the contrast isn’t clear between Marconi’s conception of the radio and what it actually is: (C) much more clearly states that the radio is instead a tool for mass communication.

So (E) is gone, and we’re left with (C). So pronoun ambiguity isn’t ideal, but it’s not automatically your enemy, either.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2010, 00:18
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D and E gone because of wrong idiom, -conceived of to be -

A gone because of -conception of as -

B is gone because of very ambiguous reference of - which - . -Which - should point to the radio as per the essence of the passage, but here, seems to point to the telephone or the conversation or a tool, every thing other than the radio.

C is the lone winner
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Aug 2006, 21:33
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C

A, D and E are out. Correct idiomn is "concieved of X as Y....." where X and Y are nouns or noun phrases.

Out of B and C, C is fare better.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2005, 02:21
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marine wrote:
Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

A. Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is
B. Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is
C. Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become
D. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become
E. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,


we have two clauses separated by a semi-colon - and the second clause needs to be in contrast with the first.
Use of a transitional tag "instead" brings out the contrast..and has become says that radio, invented by Marconi, is still in existence.

C is the best
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Mar 2005, 05:42
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marine wrote:
Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

A. Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is
B. Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is
C. Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become
D. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become
E. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,


Go for C.

(A) Marconi’s conception of is wrong

All the usage of 'which' is wrong, B,D is out.

(E) 'other than what it is' is awkward
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Aug 2005, 13:52
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A is just fine...


A. Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is

A is fine.. it clearly refers to Marconi’s conception

B. Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is

- what does which refer to here..

C. Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become
- out , bad restrictive clause. Seems to indicate that private conversation could substitute for the telephone.

D. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become
- out, sentence has a different meaning. Seems to say that private conversation is a substitute for the telephone and which clause is also weird. No clear referrent...

E. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,

- weird constructionl, other than what it is....
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Dec 2005, 07:33
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A is passive and all the other answer choices are too choppy with multiple commas.

(C)
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jun 2006, 09:14
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It's C.

Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

- "conceived of" is a correct idiom
- "substitute for" is a correct idiom
- 'tool for private conversation' is || with 'tool for communicating'.
- "it" is used for radio.

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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2010, 00:01
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If anyone answers C, could you please explain the use of that and it?

Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become

Aren't noun modifiers such as which and that(when that is used to modify a noun) supposed to be placed right next to the noun they are modifying? I can see that 'that' is modifying radio from the context of the sentence, but I want to know more about the rules governing exceptions like this one.

I know that when two clauses are connected by a conjunction, you can use a pronoun to refer back to the subject of the first clause. In this case, Marconi is the subject which can not be represented by the pronoun it, so you may assume it is referring to radio. I remember running into several questions that are very unforgiving about the use of pronoun like this, so I am a bit puzzled about the use of it here. I don't recall any from top of my head, but I will post them if I come across another.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2010, 00:20
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scheol79 wrote:
If anyone answers C, could you please explain the use of that and it?

Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become


conceived of X as Y- correct idiom. => only C and B are contenders.

Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become

radio as a tool that could substitute for the telephone -> this is the correct usage. But we may insert 'for private conversation' as a mission critical modifier. Read MGMAT SC advance chapters for this.

"It is used for radio". You can not use "it" for either tool or telephone.

Do not consider the pronoun ambiguity a hard and fast rule for the elimination.

You are here to select the best answer among 5 choices, not to select the best answer choice in the universe.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Oct 2010, 02:07
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Does the pronoun modifier - that - always have to modify the noun just before it?

I like ground coffee from India that is very enticing

I believe this sentence to be correct although India may not be very enticing.

Should a pronoun always refer to the subject of the earlier sentence? Not necessarily, It may also stand for the object.

Last week the mail order company sent me a book on grammar; unfortunately it contained anything but grammar.

In this sentence, what does the - it - refer to? The mail- order company? Nay, far from it;

I believe that context is also in contention and not the structure alone.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2014, 02:08
Hi E-GMAT,

Could you please explain the sentence structure of the above question listed below and the below listed queries.

Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

A. Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is
B. Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is
C. Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become
D. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become
E. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,

My first query is that isn't "instead" makes the second clause a dependent clause.
Second is noun modifier "a tool for private conversation" isnt it correctly modifying a telephone as mention in option B rather than in C .
Third is in choice C . The what does that modifies ?

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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2014, 09:34
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Nitinaka19 wrote:
Hi E-GMAT,

Could you please explain the sentence structure of the above question listed below and the below listed queries.

Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

A. Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is
B. Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is
C. Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become
D. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become
E. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,

My first query is that isn't "instead" makes the second clause a dependent clause.
Second is noun modifier "a tool for private conversation" isnt it correctly modifying a telephone as mention in option B rather than in C .
Third is in choice C . The what does that modifies ?

Thanks



Hi Nitinaka19,

Answer 1: The word “instead” does not make clause because it is an “adverb”. For example,

Slowly, he finished the hot chocolate.

This sentence is an independent clause. Yes, it starts with the adverb “slowly”. However, adjectives and adverbs do not make a clause a Dependent clause.

Answer 2: Well yes, in Choice B, “a tool for private conversation modifies “telephone”. However, Choice B is not incorrect for this modifier. It is incorrect for the use of “which”. Notice that “which” is preceded by a parallel marker “but”. Now this “which” clause is not parallel to anything in the sentence. That’s the error in Choice B.

Answer C: In Choice C, the “that” clause modifies “a tool for private conversation” because grammatically, that’s the entity that precedes the Relative Pronoun “that”. However, logically it modifies “radio” because the sentence says that Marconi conceived of radio as a tool…. This means radio = a tool for private conversation. So logically “that” refers to “radio” as well.

You can take a look at OG13#6 where another Noun Modifier (Verb-ed Modifier) grammatically refers to the preceding Noun Entity that in essence refers back to the Subject of the sentence.

Hope this helps. :-)
Thanks.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 22 Mar 2014, 23:41
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Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

(A) Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private
conversation; instead, it is
(B) Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private
conversation, but which is
(C) Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the
telephone; instead, it has become
(D) Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the
telephone, which has become
(E) Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private
conversation, other than what it is,

Meaning : Marconi’s conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation and he thought radio as a substitute for telephone. But radio became a tool for mass communication

Option A) Holding option A
Option B) If we remove the modifier “a tool for private conversation”. The sentence becomes
“Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone but which is”
which replaces telephone and makes the sentence nonsensical.
Option C) Holding option C)
Option D) Same issue as that of Option B)
Option E) “other than what it is” is wordy and can be replaced with instead.

I am confused between Option A and option C)

Meaning analysis of Option A):
Marconi conceptualized radio as a substitute of telephone. Now the modifier “a tool for private
conversation” provides more information about telephone. “it” logically refers to radio.
tense is present for the second half – which seems ok as the statement is made in present tense.

Meaning analysis of Option C)
Marconi conceptualized radio as a tool for private conversation and radio could substitute for the telephone. “it” logically refers to radio.
tense is present perfect -> that seems ok as the radio has been working as a mass communication since inception.

Please clarify.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Apr 2014, 14:32
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The modifier "a tool for private conversation" is a culprit in this choice. This modifier is intended for "radio", Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation. However, "it" (radio) has become just the opposite, "a tool for communicating with a large, public audience". This is the intended meaning of the sentence that is correctly expressed by Choice C.

Also, the use of "is" is not appropriate in Choice A. Use of simple present present tense makes this a universal fact. In choice C, "has become" clearly shows that what it was meant to be but what it has eventually become.

Hope this helps. :-)
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New post 15 Jul 2014, 00:11
Mission2012 wrote:
marine wrote:
Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

A. Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is
B. Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is
C. Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become
D. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become
E. Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,

Category: Rhetorical construction; Logical predication


Hi e-gmat,

My analysis on this question. Could you please review and let me know if my thought process is correct -

Marconi's conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation:instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

(A) Marconi's conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is


Analysis : IC, Noun + Noun Modifier; Adverb, IC
Error :
1. a tool for private conversation is N+NM, hence can modify radio or telephone (either)
2. Instead, it is – parallel IC, hence it refers back to parallel noun of “Marconi’s conception” instead of radio

(B) Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is


Analysis: IC, Noun + Noun Mod, But + IC
Which in this case would refer to radio (noun in parallel IC) or conversation (closest noun)?


(C) Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone; instead, it has become

Analysis: IC + that + modifier; instead, IC
That can lead over to modify radio. It refers to radio –
Correct option


(D) Marconi conceived of the radio to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone, which has become

Analysis IC, Noun + Noun Modifier, modifier
Error :
1. Conceived ..to be – incorrect idiom
2. Which refer to telephone


(E) Marconi conceived of the radio to be a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, other than what it is,

Analysis IC, Noun + Noun Modifier, <<can’t get rest of the structure
Error :
1. Conceived ..to be – incorrect idiom





Hi Nishant,
Thank you for posting your query here and a very good analysis I must say! :)


SENTENCE STRUCTURE

Marconi's conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation:
• instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.


OPTION A: Incorrect

1) The way this sentence is worded, it suggests that Marconi’s conception was a substitute for the telephone. This meaning is absolutely illogical because an idea cannot be a substitute for a tool. From the context, we can understand that the radio was conceived as a substitute for the telephone. Hence, this sentence has meaning error.
2) The pronoun “it” seems to illogically refer to “Marconi’s conception”.

The Noun + Noun modifier “a tool for private conversation” modifies “telephone” correctly, since logically we know that radio is not a tool for private conversation.


OPTION B: Incorrect

1) “but” acts as a parallel market in this choice and is followed by a “which” clause. However, this “which” clause is not parallel to anything that lies on the left side of the marker.
2) Also, it is not clear what the modifier “which” refers to in this sentence. It can either refer to “radio” or to “telephone”.

As you have mentioned, “but” should be followed by an independent clause. However, the clause starting with “which” is not an independent clause.


OPTION C: Correct

This option changes the subject from “Marconi’s conception” to “Marconi”. This removes the meaning error of the original sentence.
Also, “it” in the second clause clearly refers to radio.

Here, “that” doesn’t refer to radio. It refers to “a tool for private conversation”.


OPTION D: Incorrect

1) “Conceived of X to be Y” is incorrect idiomatic usage. The correct usage is “conceived of X as Y”.
2) The relative pronoun modifier “which” seems to modify “telephone”. This gives an illogical meaning.
Note that, “which” can’t jump over “to be a tool for private conversation, a substitute for the telephone” and modify “radio” since this modifier is not one unified phrase.


OPTION E: Incorrect

1) This choice repeats the idiom error of option D.
2) The phrase “other than what” is wordy and redundant. It gives the meaning similar to “precisely the opposite”.



Hope this helps! :)
Deepak
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Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Feb 2015, 02:04
Can someone please explain the error in option B. I read MGMAT and BTG explanation regarding the same but its still not clear to me.

Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation; instead, it is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.
B. Marconi conceived of the radio as a substitute for the telephone, a tool for private conversation, but which is


As per Ron
Quote:
http://www.manhattanprep.com/gmat/forums/post36053.html#p36053
that choice says "BUT which..."
this means that "which..." is the second part of a parallel structure. the first part of this parallel structure is "a tool for private conversation".
BOTH parts of this parallel structure modify "telephone". (this is how parallel structures work: both/all parts of them MUST have the same grammatical function.)


After cutting the fluff:
Marconi conceived of the radio
as a substitute for the telephone
but which
is precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.

Does this mean
X conceived of Y as Z but <..>
What follows but shall be || to Z.

Please add or correct my reasoning.

Option C : Correct:
Marconi conceived of the radio as a tool for private conversation that could substitute for the telephone;
instead, it has become precisely the opposite, a tool for communicating with a large, public audience.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Feb 2015, 07:15
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JarvisR wrote:
Can someone please explain the error in option B.

Hi JarvisR, B mentions: ....but which is...

Whenever we have this kind of structure (but which, and that, but that etc.), there has to be a corresponding parallel structure to the left of the conjunction (and/but).

In B, there is no corresponding parallel structure on the left hand side of but. Hence, B is not correct.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Feb 2015, 07:23
EducationAisle wrote:
JarvisR wrote:
Can someone please explain the error in option B.

Hi JarvisR, B mentions: ....but which is...

Whenever we have this kind of structure (but which, and that, but that etc.), there has to be a corresponding parallel structure to the left of the conjunction (and/but).

In B, there is no corresponding parallel structure on the left hand side of but. Hence, B is not correct.


I appreciate your inputs on the shared query. :)

This seems to be in line with Ron's explanation. Can u please confirm, if i understood it correctly (i have mentioned the structure breakdown in my original post).

Also, some of the posts point that "which" links to telephone. To me its ambiguous, can be telephone/radio.
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Re: Marconi’s conception of the radio was as a substitute for the telephon &nbs [#permalink] 14 Feb 2015, 07:23

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