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Pronoun Ambiguity in this example

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Pronoun Ambiguity in this example  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2019, 01:38
Hi folks,

Please consider the sentence,

"Supernovas destroy their immediate environments in vast explosions, but by synthesizing heavy chemical elements, THEY provide the universe with the possibility of biochemistry-based life as we know it."

Can or can- not 'they' point towards 'heavy chemical elements' as the atecedent since it's just after the comma and is touching it.

If not, why not ? Please help me build a thought process for similar questions.

Thanks.

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Re: Pronoun Ambiguity in this example  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2019, 01:46
altairahmad wrote:
Hi folks,

Please consider the sentence,

"Supernovas destroy their immediate environments in vast explosions, but by synthesizing heavy chemical elements, THEY provide the universe with the possibility of biochemistry-based life as we know it."

Can or can- not 'they' point towards 'heavy chemical elements' as the atecedent since it's just after the comma and is touching it.

If not, why not ? Please help me build a thought process for similar questions.

Thanks.

Posted from my mobile device


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New post 18 Jan 2019, 01:50
Bunuel wrote:
altairahmad wrote:
Hi folks,

Please consider the sentence,

"Supernovas destroy their immediate environments in vast explosions, but by synthesizing heavy chemical elements, THEY provide the universe with the possibility of biochemistry-based life as we know it."

Can or can- not 'they' point towards 'heavy chemical elements' as the atecedent since it's just after the comma and is touching it.

If not, why not ? Please help me build a thought process for similar questions.

Thanks.

Posted from my mobile device


Check here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/pronoun-ambi ... 34852.html


Thanks Bunuel . I went through the referenced post before posting this question. It didn't clear my confusion regarding the 'heavy chemical elements' antecedent.

I would love to hear an expert's opinion on this.

Thanks.
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Re: Pronoun Ambiguity in this example  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2019, 02:45
1
Hey,

First off, let me just past the entire sentence here for reference - "Supernovas destroy their immediate environments in vast explosions, but by synthesizing heavy chemical elements, THEY provide the universe with the possibility of biochemistry-based life as we know it."

"THEY" as highlighted in your post cannot be an antecedent to "heavy chemical elements" simply because "heavy chemical elements" is not the subject of the sentence. All along, we're only talking about what the Supernovas do.

Even after the comma, we're still talking about what the Supernovas accomplish as a by-product of synthesizing heavy chemical elements. So yes, THEY still refers to the Supernovas here.

Hope that makes sense!
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Re: Pronoun Ambiguity in this example  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2019, 03:01
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Hi altairahmad, in case of pronouns, it's not the touch rule (the noun touching the pronoun) that matters.

In case of pronoun ambiguity, application of following rule often comes in handy:

Pronoun-subject in one clause can be presumed to refer to noun-subject of another clause.

altairahmad wrote:
"Supernovas destroy their immediate environments in vast explosions, but by synthesizing heavy chemical elements, THEY provide the universe with the possibility of biochemistry-based life as we know it."

The two clauses here are:
i) Supernovas destroy their immediate environments in vast explosions - Supernovas is the noun-subject
ii) by synthesizing heavy chemical elements, they provide the universe with the possibility of biochemistry-based life as we know it - they is the pronoun-subject

So, they refers to Supernovas.

Having said that, it's worth noting that pronoun ambiguity should not be the only reason to eliminate an answer choice.

p.s. Our book EducationAisle Sentence Correction Nirvana discusses Pronoun ambiguity, its application and examples in significant detail. If you or someone is interested, PM me your email-id; I can mail the corresponding section.
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Re: Pronoun Ambiguity in this example   [#permalink] 18 Jan 2019, 03:01
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