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# QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies

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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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05 May 2017, 03:11
daagh wrote:
Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each of which consists of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her.

A. each of which consists ---- note the part after comma contains a verb and its subject is each (of which is a prepositional middle man); it is indeed an IC and therefore this passage is a comma splice

B. with each of them consisting -- 'with each of them consisting' is an adverbial modifier modifying the singular rat's action of forming colonies rather than pointing out to any plural subject or object.

C. each colony consisting -- Now the whole maze is cleared. No doubts about what is the single female and her defendant are modifying.

D. and each of them consist … each… consist is S-V error.

E. and each colony consisting-- This is an unparallel fragment

Sir, thanks for the detailed explanation. I have one doubt however. I eliminated e because use of "comma + and" must be followed by an IC. I did not see it from a parallelism perspective. Kindly advice if my line of thought is correct or not.
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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06 May 2017, 23:30
GMATNinja wrote:
Ah, “each.” One of the GMAT’s favorite little things.

There’s some nuance to this, but the quick version is that when “each” is used as a subject, it’s always singular. (Note that “each” can also function as an adverb, though it’s fairly rare on the GMAT – see this thread if you want to torment yourself with those details. Or check out this thread for a more “normal” use of “each.”)

So in this case, we can eliminate (D) right away: “each… consist” is wrong, since “each” is singular.

The other thing that jumps out at me is the word “them” in answer choices (B) and (D). The most recent plural noun is “animals” – but that doesn’t make any sense. “Each of the animals consisting of a single reproductive female and workers…”?? Nope. So (B) is gone, too.

(A) has a nearly identical issue: “each of which” seems to refer back to “animals” as well, and that’s illogical. Our last two choices, (C) and (E), clarify the meaning by using the phrase “each colony.”

The only difference between (C) and (E) is the word “and” -- and that doesn’t quite work in (E). We’d need a full clause after the “and” in this case: “and each colony consisted…” would be OK, but “consisting” is a participle (modifier) here, so we definitely don’t need the “and.”

So our winner is (C). “each colony consisting” is just a modifier – and it makes perfect sense as a source of extra information for that initial clause, “Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals…”

Thanks for the explanation. A couple of questions:

1) You wrote "The other thing that jumps out at me is the word “them” in answer choices (B) and (D). The most recent plural noun is “animals” – but that doesn’t make any sense."
If the pronoun is ambiguous (can refer to multiple antecedents), isn't the sentence automatically incorrect, regardless of whether or not the pronoun refers to the most recent antecedent?

2) This question concerns use of "which". Please let me know if my understanding is correct:

a) When "which" follows a comma, it refers to the subject directly preceding the comma. E.g. Johnny was playing with the ball and the car, which had big wheels. This is correct because "which" refers to "car".

However, if the sentence read "Johnny was playing with the ball and the car and it had big wheels." this would be incorrect because the pronoun "it" could refer to the "ball" or "car".

b) "Which" can refer to a subject that does not directly precede the comma if the subject preceding the comma cannot be referred to by "which". E.g.

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

In this example, "which" cannot refer to Susan and therefore must refer to the "letter".
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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10 May 2017, 15:15
1
Top Contributor
Quote:
Thanks for the explanation. A couple of questions:

1) You wrote "The other thing that jumps out at me is the word “them” in answer choices (B) and (D). The most recent plural noun is “animals” – but that doesn’t make any sense."
If the pronoun is ambiguous (can refer to multiple antecedents), isn't the sentence automatically incorrect, regardless of whether or not the pronoun refers to the most recent antecedent?

There's a lot of grey area on the GMAT when it comes to pronoun ambiguity. The quick answer is that pronoun ambiguity doesn't automatically make a sentence in correct. Here, check out this older thread on the topic: https://gmatclub.com/forum/pronoun-ambi ... 45387.html

Quote:
2) This question concerns use of "which". Please let me know if my understanding is correct:

a) When "which" follows a comma, it refers to the subject directly preceding the comma. E.g. Johnny was playing with the ball and the car, which had big wheels. This is correct because "which" refers to "car".

Agreed.

Quote:
However, if the sentence read "Johnny was playing with the ball and the car and it had big wheels." this would be incorrect because the pronoun "it" could refer to the "ball" or "car".

Again, pronoun ambiguity isn't automatically wrong. When in doubt, "it" will most likely refer to the most recent singular noun -- "car", in this case. So the pronoun doesn't seem like a problem at all in this example.

Quote:
b) "Which" can refer to a subject that does not directly precede the comma if the subject preceding the comma cannot be referred to by "which". E.g.

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

In this example, "which" cannot refer to Susan and therefore must refer to the "letter".

This is where we get into some tricky stuff, but you have the right idea: "which" can't refer to a person, so the "which" has to reach a little bit farther back. In this case, "letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson" is being modified by "which" -- and that's OK, since there's really no way to rearrange the sentence so that the "which" is right after "letters." But this type of exception doesn't appear terribly often on the GMAT.

I hope this helps!
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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10 May 2017, 19:39
1
daagh wrote:
Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each of which consists of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her.

A. each of which consists ---- note the part after comma contains a verb and its subject is each (of which is a prepositional middle man); it is indeed an IC and therefore this passage is a comma splice

B. with each of them consisting -- 'with each of them consisting' is an adverbial modifier modifying the singular rat's action of forming colonies rather than pointing out to any plural subject or object.

C. each colony consisting -- Now the whole maze is cleared. No doubts about what is the single female and her defendant are modifying.

D. and each of them consist … each… consist is S-V error.

E. and each colony consisting-- This is an unparallel fragment

I have to disagree about your reasoning for A. Why do you think it's a comma splice error? A comma splice is when a comma is used to join two independent clauses. That's not the case here. Do you see what I mean?
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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10 May 2017, 19:48
GMATNinja wrote:
Quote:
Thanks for the explanation. A couple of questions:

1) You wrote "The other thing that jumps out at me is the word “them” in answer choices (B) and (D). The most recent plural noun is “animals” – but that doesn’t make any sense."
If the pronoun is ambiguous (can refer to multiple antecedents), isn't the sentence automatically incorrect, regardless of whether or not the pronoun refers to the most recent antecedent?

There's a lot of grey area on the GMAT when it comes to pronoun ambiguity. The quick answer is that pronoun ambiguity doesn't automatically make a sentence in correct. Here, check out this older thread on the topic: https://gmatclub.com/forum/pronoun-ambi ... 45387.html

Quote:
2) This question concerns use of "which". Please let me know if my understanding is correct:

a) When "which" follows a comma, it refers to the subject directly preceding the comma. E.g. Johnny was playing with the ball and the car, which had big wheels. This is correct because "which" refers to "car".

Agreed.

Quote:
However, if the sentence read "Johnny was playing with the ball and the car and it had big wheels." this would be incorrect because the pronoun "it" could refer to the "ball" or "car".

Again, pronoun ambiguity isn't automatically wrong. When in doubt, "it" will most likely refer to the most recent singular noun -- "car", in this case. So the pronoun doesn't seem like a problem at all in this example.

Quote:
b) "Which" can refer to a subject that does not directly precede the comma if the subject preceding the comma cannot be referred to by "which". E.g.

Emily Dickinson’s letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson, which were written over a period beginning a few years before Susan’s marriage to Emily’s brother and ending shortly before Emily’s death in 1886, outnumber her letters to anyone else.

In this example, "which" cannot refer to Susan and therefore must refer to the "letter".

This is where we get into some tricky stuff, but you have the right idea: "which" can't refer to a person, so the "which" has to reach a little bit farther back. In this case, "letters to Susan Huntington Dickinson" is being modified by "which" -- and that's OK, since there's really no way to rearrange the sentence so that the "which" is right after "letters." But this type of exception doesn't appear terribly often on the GMAT.

I hope this helps!

That was an interesting read, thanks. 3 points are outlined for consideration of whether the pronoun is ambiguous:

1) Context - does the pronoun clearly point to one of the antecedents over the others
2) Pronoun should be parallel to the intended antecedent
3) Pronoun should not be parallel to the intended antecedent

One last question for you! In the mole rats example, for choice A, I would have thought that it was completely obvious what was being referred to by "each of which" (although this is not use of a pronoun, it is very similar). An animal cannot consist of "a single reproductive female and workers that defend her"! However, this choice is wrong!! Can you shed any light on why the GMAT would consider this choice, which is less awkward than the correct answer, incorrect?
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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10 May 2017, 19:51
1
spetznaz wrote:
daagh wrote:
Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each of which consists of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her.

A. each of which consists ---- note the part after comma contains a verb and its subject is each (of which is a prepositional middle man); it is indeed an IC and therefore this passage is a comma splice

B. with each of them consisting -- 'with each of them consisting' is an adverbial modifier modifying the singular rat's action of forming colonies rather than pointing out to any plural subject or object.

C. each colony consisting -- Now the whole maze is cleared. No doubts about what is the single female and her defendant are modifying.

D. and each of them consist … each… consist is S-V error.

E. and each colony consisting-- This is an unparallel fragment

Sir, thanks for the detailed explanation. I have one doubt however. I eliminated e because use of "comma + and" must be followed by an IC. I did not see it from a parallelism perspective. Kindly advice if my line of thought is correct or not.

If E were correct it would need to read "and each colony consists" or "with each colony consisting". I don't see a parallelism issue here.
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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11 May 2017, 08:29
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Top Contributor
Quote:
One last question for you! In the mole rats example, for choice A, I would have thought that it was completely obvious what was being referred to by "each of which" (although this is not use of a pronoun, it is very similar). An animal cannot consist of "a single reproductive female and workers that defend her"! However, this choice is wrong!! Can you shed any light on why the GMAT would consider this choice, which is less awkward than the correct answer, incorrect?

Technically speaking, "which" is also a type of pronoun, called a relative pronoun (as always, don't worry about the jargon unless you like it). You'll often see me refer to "which" as "the beginning of a modifier" or "part of a modifier" because that's a simpler way to think about it -- but technically, I'm wrong. And I think your description is nicely intuitive: "which" is "not use of a pronoun, but it is very similar." I think that's a good way of thinking of it here, but really, it's just a pronoun, and it needs an antecedent like any other.

So the problem in (A) is that if you look at it strictly and literally, "which" would seem to refer to the most recent noun: "animals." The correct answer fixes that issue nicely.

And it pains me to say this, but you really don't want to worry much about "awkwardness" on GMAT SC. I know: the answer explanations in the OG use the terms "awkward" and "wordy" all the time. But "awkward" is completely in the eye of the beholder, and I'd argue that a huge chunk of the CORRECT answers are awkward and wordy. The pronoun issue (or any other grammar rule) definitely trumps any subjective feeling that something is "awkward."
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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11 May 2017, 09:46
C sounds the best. The lagtter part clearly refers to the colony, unlike some other options, like A, in which there is ambiguity about whether 'each' refers to colonies or animals !
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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03 Jun 2017, 02:05
souvik101990 wrote:

Verbal Question of The Day: Day 3: Sentence Correction

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Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals,each of which consists of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her.

A. each of which consists
B. with each of them consisting
C. each colony consisting
D. and each of them consist
E. and each colony consisting

Every question of the day will be followed by an expert reply by GMATNinja in 12-15 hours. Stay tuned! Post your answers and explanations to earn kudos.

A noun + noun-modifier as they call it is required since the "which" in the question can modify animals or colonies..
so going by the option :
A : Incorrect as explained above
B : Incorrect - "them" can refer to animals or colonies
C : Seems Correct
D : "Incorrect - same as B
E : use of "and" requires the statement after "and" to be a Clause with subject and verb but in this case it is a run on sentence with out a verb..
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2017, 05:08
Hi,
As per e-gmat, for pronoun ambiguity : we need to put back the valid nouns and see if more than one noun can fit in the sentence
Here 'which' can refer to 'animals' indeed but then the meaning is distorted, so we cant consider this this. Now which can only refer to colonies and then it is correct so I feel A is correct.

Pls guide.
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2017, 08:04
akhisysnl wrote:
Hi,
As per e-gmat, for pronoun ambiguity : we need to put back the valid nouns and see if more than one noun can fit in the sentence
Here 'which' can refer to 'animals' indeed but then the meaning is distorted, so we cant consider this this. Now which can only refer to colonies and then it is correct so I feel A is correct.

Pls guide.

Hello akhisysnl,

You are correct in saying that we do suggest that replace the pronoun with all he nouns that you may deem a logical antecedent of that pronoun. Only the logical noun will be the antecedent of that pronoun.

In this official sentence, as you have correctly mentioned, which has only one logical antecedent - colonies.

However, we also say that GMAT seems to prefer the answer choice that mentions the noun entity exclusively rather than the pronoun used for that noun entity.

In Choice C, the noun entity colony is specifically mentioned and hence leave no doubt for any pronoun ambiguity whatsoever. Hence, this choice is definitely better than Choice A.

There are many official sentences in which we see that the correct answer choice carries the noun entity explicitly.

Hope this helps.
Thanks.
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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08 Nov 2017, 22:41
GMATNinja wrote:
Ah, “each.” One of the GMAT’s favorite little things.

There’s some nuance to this, but the quick version is that when “each” is used as a subject, it’s always singular. (Note that “each” can also function as an adverb, though it’s fairly rare on the GMAT – see this thread if you want to torment yourself with those details. Or check out this thread for a more “normal” use of “each.”)

So in this case, we can eliminate (D) right away: “each… consist” is wrong, since “each” is singular.

The other thing that jumps out at me is the word “them” in answer choices (B) and (D). The most recent plural noun is “animals” – but that doesn’t make any sense. “Each of the animals consisting of a single reproductive female and workers…”?? Nope. So (B) is gone, too.

(A) has a nearly identical issue: “each of which” seems to refer back to “animals” as well, and that’s illogical. Our last two choices, (C) and (E), clarify the meaning by using the phrase “each colony.”

The only difference between (C) and (E) is the word “and” -- and that doesn’t quite work in (E). We’d need a full clause after the “and” in this case: “and each colony consisted…” would be OK, but “consisting” is a participle (modifier) here, so we definitely don’t need the “and.”

So our winner is (C). “each colony consisting” is just a modifier – and it makes perfect sense as a source of extra information for that initial clause, “Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals…”

GMATNinja Can i call this a case of resumptive modifier?
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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09 Nov 2017, 14:02
1
Luckisnoexcuse wrote:

GMATNinja Can i call this a case of resumptive modifier?

Sure! You know that I'm not a big fan of the grammar terminology, but for whatever it's worth, I think it does qualifies as a resumptive modifier: we're restating a noun ("each colony") so that we can then describe the colony in more detail.

And if you have no idea what we're talking about and have no interest in the term "resumptive modifier", that's cool, too.
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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24 Nov 2017, 04:55
Hi,

I eliminated C because "each worker consisting" and "workers that defend her" dint appear parallel.

Can you help me on this please.
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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27 Nov 2017, 23:28
kamalakarthi wrote:
Hi,

I eliminated C because "each worker consisting" and "workers that defend her" dint appear parallel.

Can you help me on this please.

There's absolutely no reason why those two things need to be parallel. The parallelism trigger "and" is followed by a noun ("workers that defend her"). That noun just needs to be parallel to some other noun -- and "a single reproductive female" does the trick.

So we have: "Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each colony consisting of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her." No problem there at all.

For more on parallelism, you might want to check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQgATaaw1ok
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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28 Jan 2018, 00:52
daagh wrote:
Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each of which consists of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her.

A. each of which consists ---- note the part after comma contains a verb and its subject is each (of which is a prepositional middle man); it is indeed an IC and therefore this passage is a comma splice

B. with each of them consisting -- 'with each of them consisting' is an adverbial modifier modifying the singular rat's action of forming colonies rather than pointing out to any plural subject or object.

C. each colony consisting -- Now the whole maze is cleared. No doubts about what is the single female and her defendant are modifying.

D. and each of them consist … each… consist is S-V error.

E. and each colony consisting-- This is an unparallel fragment

Excuse me, would you please clarify what do you mean by "This is an unparallel fragment"
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies [#permalink]

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07 May 2018, 05:15
ahmed.abumera wrote:
daagh wrote:
Naked mole rats form colonies of approximately 20 animals, each of which consists of a single reproductive female and workers that defend her.

A. each of which consists ---- note the part after comma contains a verb and its subject is each (of which is a prepositional middle man); it is indeed an IC and therefore this passage is a comma splice

B. with each of them consisting -- 'with each of them consisting' is an adverbial modifier modifying the singular rat's action of forming colonies rather than pointing out to any plural subject or object.

C. each colony consisting -- Now the whole maze is cleared. No doubts about what is the single female and her defendant are modifying.

D. and each of them consist … each… consist is S-V error.

E. and each colony consisting-- This is an unparallel fragment

Excuse me, would you please clarify what do you mean by "This is an unparallel fragment"

Hi ahmed.abumera,
the part after the word AND does not contain a verb and thus is not an independent clause .
The part after the word AND is not parallel to part before it and it is a fragment since it does not contain a verb.
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Re: QOTD: Naked mole rats form colonies   [#permalink] 07 May 2018, 05:15

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