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# Modifier question

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Intern
Joined: 24 Dec 2011
Posts: 22

Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 8

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23 Feb 2012, 13:08
Hi ,

I just have a general modifer question and I hope that this is the right forum to post.
if not, I apologize!

The best way is to demonstrate my concerns with an example:

Fossils of the arm of a sloth, which ...

Now, I know that "which" modifies the noun ultimately preceding the comma.
But is the same thing true for nouns followed by prepositional phrases like here (of the arm of the sloth)?

does the which modify "sloth"

or

Fossils, since "of ...." only describes the noun Fossils.

So is it:

Fossils [strike]of the arm of a sloth[/strike], which ...

or [strike]Fossils of the arm of a[/strike] sloth, which

Thanks

Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 8

Director
Status: Prep started for the n-th time
Joined: 29 Aug 2010
Posts: 672

Kudos [?]: 198 [0], given: 37

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23 Feb 2012, 19:29
You rightly pointed out that which can modify:
1) Preceding noun - most of the time.
2) Preceding noun + prepositional phrase - sometimes, if there is no ambiguity as to what is being modified.

To get a clue on what is "which" modifying, look at the verb after "which". If the example says

1) Fossils of the arm of a sloth, which were/have ..... => Since there is a plural verb, which cannot modify "sloth". It must modify Fossils which is plural

2) Fossils of the arm of a sloth, which is/was => singluar verb, which is modifying "sloth" .

Crick

Kudos [?]: 198 [0], given: 37

Intern
Joined: 24 Dec 2011
Posts: 22

Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 8

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24 Feb 2012, 14:31
Thank you!

So in other words, there is no "fixed" rule what to modify but rather depends on the context?

Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 8

Director
Status: Prep started for the n-th time
Joined: 29 Aug 2010
Posts: 672

Kudos [?]: 198 [0], given: 37

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27 Feb 2012, 19:03
gamatack wrote:
Thank you!

So in other words, there is no "fixed" rule what to modify but rather depends on the context?

I would say the fixed rule is which modifies the preceding noun, unless , in rare cases, it can modify the noun + preposition phrase if the adjoining noun cannot be the "modified noun" ( because of the number).

When in doubt, you should stick to relative modifiers modify the preceding noun.

Crick

(Don't forget the kudos if you like the answer ).

Kudos [?]: 198 [0], given: 37

Re: Modifier question   [#permalink] 27 Feb 2012, 19:03
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