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# Placement of 'that'

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Intern
Joined: 13 May 2017
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29 Mar 2018, 09:27
Hi,

I am having difficulty understanding why the second statement is incorrect.

Electrons are particles that physicists agree exist.
Electrons are particles physicists agree that exist.

In both the sentences, that refers to particles because the verb is plural. Why is the placement of that incorrect in the second but correct in the first?

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Joined: 24 Aug 2016
Posts: 789
GMAT 1: 540 Q49 V16
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29 Mar 2018, 21:21
PrashanthiShankar wrote:
Hi,

I am having difficulty understanding why the second statement is incorrect.

Electrons are particles that physicists agree exist.
Electrons are particles physicists agree that exist.

In both the sentences, that refers to particles because the verb is plural. Why is the placement of that incorrect in the second but correct in the first?

Hello Friend,

Below is my take :

(1)Electrons are particles that physicists agree exist. =>

Electrons(subject) are(Verb) particles(Object) that physicists agree exist.(modifier of particles)
Here the underlined portion is a clause. It is providing more information about 'particle.' 'that' is acting as the Subject of the clause and the verb is 'exist'. Moreover as 'that' is actually referring to plural 'particles' , hence, the verb associated with it is in plural compatible form ,i.e., 'exist'.

(2) Electrons are particles physicists agree that exist.

To me, this sentence has several issues.
i. Electrons(S) are(V) particles(O) - a nice short independent clause - fine , but now
ii. physicists(S) agree(V) that(O) exist (more info for that) - so written in this way we have 2 consecutive Independent Clause(IC) .This neither has IC;IC nor IC,(connecting conjunction) IC structure. And thus ungrammatical.
iii. When the words 'particles' and 'physicists' placed side by side in the context of the sentence - its a bit confusing.
iv. that clause generally modifies noun, and thus when placed immediately after verb agree. it causes grammatical issue.

Hope it helps !!
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Joined: 30 Jan 2016
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30 Mar 2018, 08:40
Hi!

If "physicists agree" is to modify "particles", we need a "that" between them. This is where the "that" belongs. The first sentence uses verb + "that" -- very common in English.

I said that...
I think that...
I agree that...
I know that...
I saw that...

The usage of "that" in the second sentence is odd. "That" is a relative pronoun. It can be used as follows:

Noun + "that" - "that" modifies the noun that precedes "that"
Verb + "that" - expect to see new subject + verb. In this case agree (verb) + that + exist (verb) - no subject, therefore incorrect.

https://gmatclub.com/forum/compiled-thu ... 54538.html

Hope this helps.
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Location: United Kingdom
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05 Apr 2018, 07:12
PrashanthiShankar wrote:
Hi,

I am having difficulty understanding why the second statement is incorrect.

Electrons are particles that physicists agree exist.
Electrons are particles physicists agree that exist.

In both the sentences, that refers to particles because the verb is plural. Why is the placement of that incorrect in the second but correct in the first?

The way I would look at that is to see That “that” it should modify the noun closest to it.

So its usage in first sentence is perfect as it modifies particles.

In the second one its not that clear.

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05 Apr 2018, 09:18
PrashanthiShankar wrote:
Hi,

I am having difficulty understanding why the second statement is incorrect.

Electrons are particles that physicists agree exist.
Electrons are particles physicists agree that exist.

In both the sentences, that refers to particles because the verb is plural. Why is the placement of that incorrect in the second but correct in the first?

Hi
In the first sentence, that refers to the particles. Here, that acts as a pronoun following the noun particles.
In the second sentence, that does not act as a pronoun. Hence it is incorrect.
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Re: Placement of 'that'   [#permalink] 05 Apr 2018, 09:18
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