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QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt

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QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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22 Jun 2017, 12:03
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Verbal Question of The Day: Day 39: Sentence Correction

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While depressed property values can hurt some large investors, they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose equity—in many cases representing a life's savings—can plunge or even disappear.

(A) they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose
(B) they can potentially devastate homeowners in that their
(C) for homeowners they are potentially devastating, because their
(D) for homeowners, it is potentially devastating in that their
(E) it can potentially devastate homeowners, whose

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https://www.nytimes.com/1989/05/14/weekinreview/the-nation-can-the-us-bail-out-thrifts-without-sinking-real-estate.html

While the depressed property values have hurt some large investors, they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose equity - in many cases representing a life's savings - can plunge or even disappear. Bankers in the Southwest say that often when homeowners find that the size of their mortgage exceeds the value of their homes, they simply let the lenders foreclose, a phenomenon that has helped cause the failure of many savings institutions.

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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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22 Jun 2017, 12:11
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It's pronoun week here in the verbal forum! For those of you who missed it, we went through this question -- and three other pronoun-related SC questions -- in our live YouTube session this past Monday. The video is available here.

Quote:
(A) they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose

This looks pretty good. On the surface, you could argue that "they" is ambiguous: it could refer back to "investors" or "depressed property values." But as we've discussed in another recent QOTD, "they" is the subject of the second clause in the sentence, and it can refer unambiguously to the subject of the first clause ("depressed property values"). So let's keep (A).

Quote:
(B) they can potentially devastate homeowners in that their

"They" is quietly perfectly OK here (see above), but "their" is a problem: does it refer back to "homeowners"? Or does "their" refer back to "they", which refers back to "depressed property values"? Murky stuff.

There's also no reason to use "in that their", when we could use the much clearer modifier "whose." And "can potentially" is redundant. So (A) is definitely better than (B).

Quote:
(C) for homeowners they are potentially devastating, because their

The first "they" is in a funny position now, so it's less obvious that refers back to "depressed property values." But let's assume that it does refer to "depressed property values." Then "their" starts to become a problem, because it could easily refer back to "they", which refers back to "depressed property values". Again, this isn't necessarily the end of the world, but (A) is much, much clearer.

Quote:
(D) for homeowners, it is potentially devastating in that their

Oh good: a straight elimination. "It" has no referent. I'm happy. (D) is gone.

Quote:
(E) it can potentially devastate homeowners, whose

Same pronoun issue as (D), plus "can potentially" is redundant. So (E) is gone, too. (A) is the winner.
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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22 Jun 2017, 13:12
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It has to be A

While depressed property values can hurt some large investors, they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose equity —in many cases representing a life's savings—can plunge or even disappear.

(A) they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose
(B) they can potentiallydevastate homeowners in that their - According to MGMAT: Repeated pronouns are presumed to have the same antecedent. In this case, the antecedent for "their" is homeowners, while for "they" it is "property values". For that reason there is an ambuguity. Also, "can potentially" in this case have the same meaning and for that reason "potentially" is redundant
(C) for homeowners they are potentially devastating, because their - the same issues as in B
(D) for homeowners, it is potentially devastating in that their - should be "they"
(E) it can potentially devastate homeowners, whose - should be they, not it. Also potentially is redundant here.

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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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22 Jun 2017, 12:11
IMO A.

In A the pronoun correctly refers back to depressed property values

Whose can modify people and object so whose is correct.

While dependent clause, independent clause.

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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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22 Jun 2017, 12:28
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While depressed property values can hurt some large investors, they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose equity —in many cases representing a life's savings—can plunge or even disappear.

(A) they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose
(B) they can potentially devastate homeowners in that their (changes the meaning)
(C) for homeowners they are potentially devastating, because their (no clear antecedent)
(D) for homeowners, it is potentially devastating in that their (for 'values', it is wrong)
(E) it can potentially devastate homeowners, whose (for 'values', it is wrong)

IMO A should be the answer.
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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22 Jun 2017, 17:11
A...they correctly refer to depressed property values...Whose correctly refers to homeowners

While depressed property values can hurt some large investors, they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose equity —in many cases representing a life's savings—can plunge or even disappear.

(A) they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose
(B) they can potentially devastate homeowners in that their
(C) for homeowners they are potentially devastating, because their
(D) for homeowners, it is potentially devastating in that their
(E) it can potentially devastate homeowners, whose
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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23 Jun 2017, 07:07
According to me E should be the answer .
Can they be used for inanimate subjects ?
In option A they refers to property values , is it correct .
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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23 Jun 2017, 09:00
There is no ambiguity in option A? How do we know what is the exact antecedent of the pronoun "they"?

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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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23 Jun 2017, 09:15
They cannot logically refer to large investors as these investors cannot harm the buyers' equity values.

Meaning of the sentence is logical in A.
Also, if you check other options, none of them have a repeated noun to clear the ambiguity, if any. Its they or it. Property values - plural, so can't have it as a pronoun.

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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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27 Jun 2017, 04:25
spc11

Thanks for your response. But i still have a question.

Take this Manhattan's question for example: "Researches claim to have developed new "nano-papers" incorporating tiny cellulose fibers, which they allege give them the strength of cast iron". According to Manhattan's explanation - "both they and them have ambiguous antecedents. Either pronoun could refer back to researches or to "nano-papers". But according to your explanation there is no ambiguity regarding the pronoun "they", because this pronoun cannot logically refer to "nano-papers" as "nano-papers" cannot allege something (it's a material). So what i don't understand is when can i conclude that there is a pronoun ambiguity - just when both optional antecedent can makes sense or in any situation that i have technically two different antecedents.

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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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27 Jun 2017, 10:07
I suggest you dedicate time on practising from OG and verbal guides, study the explanations and gradually you will get the hang of the pronouns usage. One or two problems will not clarify much of this very tricky and thus very important usage.

That's my 2c and that's what I have followed, along with studying MGMAT SC many a times, still work in progress.

Thanks and best wishes!

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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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28 Jun 2017, 06:24
I thought of "Depressed Property Values" as a singular term. So you would refer to that term with an "it" not a "they".

I picked E and got it wrong...
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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28 Jun 2017, 06:35
Keepushinalmosthere wrote:
I thought of "Depressed Property Values" as a singular term. So you would refer to that term with an "it" not a "they".

I picked E and got it wrong...

depressed would serve as an adjective to describe property values. It does not change the plural term "property values". e.g. brilliant students - Here brilliant describes the plural term "students".
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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21 Sep 2017, 11:14
GMATNinja wrote:
Quote:
(B) they can potentially devastate homeowners in that their

"They" is quietly perfectly OK here (see above), but "their" is a problem: does it refer back to "homeowners"? Or does "their" refer back to "they", which refers back to "depressed property values"? Murky stuff.

There's also no reason to use "in that their", when we could use the much clearer modifier "whose." And "can potentially" is redundant. So (A) is definitely better than (B).

Hi GMATNinja,

In GMAT we can verify what a pronoun is referring to by replacing the pronoun by contenders. In our case the contenders are "owners" and "property values".
Since "their" is logically followed by a part of sentence that depicts that the equity value has fallen/lifetime savings go in vein, we should be logically be able to infer that "their" is referring back to "owners" and NOT "property values"- since, "property values" can't have lifetime earnings.

In my opinion pronoun ambiguity is not an issue in this sentence.

Please let me know what am I missing here.

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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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01 Apr 2018, 04:50
GMATNinja wrote:
Quote:
(D) for homeowners, it is potentially devastating in that their

Oh good: a straight elimination. "It" has no referent. I'm happy. (D) is gone.

Quote:
(E) it can potentially devastate homeowners, whose

Same pronoun issue as (D), plus "can potentially" is redundant. So (E) is gone, too. (A) is the winner.

Hi, I know I am a bit late to ignite this conversation but I have a confusion.
I understand the logic mentioned why "their" is not appropriate in answer choices. But as per my understanding pronoun "IT" is used to address non living things or for animals or gender unknown. So, isn't the pronoun "IT" in answer choices (D) and (E) referring back to Depressed Property Values? Have we crossed out (D) and (E) because "Depressed Property Values" are plural?
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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16 May 2018, 08:33
ujjwal80 wrote:
GMATNinja wrote:
Quote:
(D) for homeowners, it is potentially devastating in that their

Oh good: a straight elimination. "It" has no referent. I'm happy. (D) is gone.

Quote:
(E) it can potentially devastate homeowners, whose

Same pronoun issue as (D), plus "can potentially" is redundant. So (E) is gone, too. (A) is the winner.

Hi, I know I am a bit late to ignite this conversation but I have a confusion.
I understand the logic mentioned why "their" is not appropriate in answer choices. But as per my understanding pronoun "IT" is used to address non living things or for animals or gender unknown. So, isn't the pronoun "IT" in answer choices (D) and (E) referring back to Depressed Property Values? Have we crossed out (D) and (E) because "Depressed Property Values" are plural?

Hi ujjwal80,
Logically IT should refer to depressed property values but the pronoun "It" is singular whereas the noun (depressed property values) is plural.

Hope this helps!!
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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16 May 2018, 08:34
While depressed property values can hurt some large investors, they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose equity—in many cases representing a life's savings—can plunge or even disappear.
(B) they can potentially devastate homeowners in that their - Repeated pronouns are presumed to have the same antecedent. In this case, the antecedent for "their" is homeowners, while for "they" it is "property values". For that reason, there is an ambiguity.

Q-In a sentence, should all plural nouns refer to the same antecedent? Similarly, all singular nouns refer to the same antecedent?

AjiteshArun , GMATNinja , mikemcgarry , egmat , sayantanc2k, RonPurewal , DmitryFarber , MagooshExpert, ccooley , GMATNinjaTwo ,other experts -- please enlighten.
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt  [#permalink]

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18 May 2018, 09:53
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Skywalker18 wrote:
While depressed property values can hurt some large investors, they are potentially devastating for homeowners, whose equity—in many cases representing a life's savings—can plunge or even disappear.
(B) they can potentially devastate homeowners in that their - Repeated pronouns are presumed to have the same antecedent. In this case, the antecedent for "their" is homeowners, while for "they" it is "property values". For that reason, there is an ambiguity.

Q-In a sentence, should all plural nouns refer to the same antecedent? Similarly, all singular nouns refer to the same antecedent?

Good question! Though I'm not sure that you'll like my answer much.

In most cases, you're right: it seems like a bad idea to use a repeated pronoun to refer to two different antecedents, especially if the repeated pronouns are very close to each other. And in this particular sentence, I think you're right that the pronouns are ambiguous -- and there's obviously a better version in another answer choice.

The trouble is, I think it's dangerous to consider this an absolute rule. Imagine, for example, a long, wordy sentence like this one:

Wilbur ate four dozen burritos on Saturday, mostly because they were relatively small and filled with his favorite ingredient, roasted caterpillars; because they are high and protein and low in fat, caterpillars are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.

(That might be the most ridiculous sentence I've written this week, though there are a couple of species of caterpillar that truly are tasty...)

Anyway, I'd argue that "they" is perfectly clear in both cases, even though "they" refers to two different antecedents. Technically, there might arguably be some ambiguity here, but it doesn't get in the way of the meaning or clarity of the sentence, and I don't think the GMAT would have a problem with the sentence (other than the content, maybe).

More broadly: pronoun ambiguity isn't an absolute rule, anyway. So you're right to be SUSPICIOUS of repeated pronouns, because they easily could cause ambiguity. But be a little bit careful not to turn it into a rigid rule, because it seems entirely possible that repeated pronouns could correctly refer to different antecedents, depending on the context. And I suspect that if we look hard enough, we'll find a few correct answers on official GMAT questions with "they" (or "it") referring to two different antecedents.

I hope this helps!
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Re: QOTD: While depressed property values can hurt &nbs [#permalink] 18 May 2018, 09:53
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