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# Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has

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Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has [#permalink]

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10 Apr 2012, 22:28
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Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

a) their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden
b) their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly
c) its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden
d) its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden
e) its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly

thought OA is
[Reveal] Spoiler:
D

I have reservation on use of its/ their in this question-
should not their refer to the systems ? because crippling malfunction is of systems not of squad
[Reveal] Spoiler:
(use to justify use of its)
so if option A were-
[Reveal] Spoiler:
A- their more crippling malfunctions [strike]has[/strike] had been the sudden
, would it become better choice than OA ?

any thoughts ?
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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26 Apr 2012, 08:41
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Hi All,

Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

In order to ascertain the antecedent for “their”, it is imperative to understand the logical meaning of the sentence. The engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems. Why did they make this request? They did so because they reported a crippling malfunction. What is this crippling malfunction? This crippling malfunction is the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system. So what is malfunctioning? The liquid helium cooling system is malfunctioning.

Since “system” is in singular, plural “their” must be changed into singular “its” so that the pronoun can agree in number with its antecedent. Also, the squad “requested” additional funds. This means that this action of requesting took place in the past. This means that malfunction took place even before that. Hence use of present perfect tense “has been” is incorrect.

POE

Choice A: Incorrect for reasons mentioned above.

Choice B: their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly. Incorrect. This choice repeats all the errors of choice A. In addition, it uses adverb “suddenly” to refer to noun “failure”.

Choice C: its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden. Incorrect. Use of simple present tense “is” is not correct.

Choice D: its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden. Correct. This choice corrects both the errors present in the original sentence.

Choice E: its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly. Incorrect. Use of adverb “suddenly” to refer to noun “failure” is incorrect.

1. Pronouns must agree in number with their noun antecedents.
2. Adverbs can only refer to verbs.
3. Use correct verb tense to convey the logical meaning of the sentence.

Hope this helps.

Thanks.
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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30 May 2012, 23:09
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Of course meaning is important for SC, never more than in the last couple of years, but let the question and its answers tell you where to spend your time and energy. Understand the sentence, but don't begin either with a diagram of the sentence or with an explicit paraphrase.

Here, start with the split between its and their. I take the antecedent to be the Large Hadron Collider, which is singular. Even the best version of this sentence will turn out to be very awkward, and I can certainly see a structural case that the antecedent is the engineering squad, though exactly what that would mean I can't imagine. And it doesn't matter. Three of the alleged antecedents--the...squad, the...system, and the...Collider--are singular. Eliminate A and B.

(If you're really concerned that perhaps the antecedent is the very last word in the sentence, systems, then you had better take the time and trouble to think explicitly about meaning. Does it make sense to say that the squad requested funding for better systems because those better systems had a certain crippling malfunction? No.)

You could next go to the split between has been and is, or the split between sudden and suddenly. I'll start with sudden/suddenly. Since the word modifies the noun failure, we need to use the adjective sudden, rather than the adverb suddenly. Eliminate E.

That leaves the verb tense issue. When given a split among verb tenses, choose the tense that makes the order of events clear. The past perfect had been makes clear that the malfunction was a failure before the squad requested funding, that it, malfunctions had been is an earlier past event, while the squad requested is a later past event. Choose D.

As promised, even the best sentence turned out to be pretty awkward.

OK, I want to clear up a couple of misconceptions in some otherwise excellent answers. These are not important to the present question, but the authors of these misconceptions gave such good analyses that I want to offer a couple of friendly amendments.

First, Shraddha, of the wonderful visual organizers, the sentence does not say that the system is malfunctioning, it says that the (sudden and unexpected) failure of the system has been one (of the more crippling) malfunction. This might seem to be logic-chopping, but it's not. I gather that you suppose that the pronoun its[i]/their[/i] will refer to the subject of its clause, so you need to be precise about grammar, not just meaning. Further, there is no reason to suppose in this case that the pronoun refers to the subject of its clause.

Second, ChrisLele, I wonder whether it's strictly true that "When we have a participle phrase (as we do here, beginning with 'reporting...'), the its/their must refer to the noun that comes immediately after the comma." That is a good style guideline, but by no means does it render all English sentences correctly. Consider the sentence, "Overcome by its charming GUI, Ralph decided to purchase the Mac rather than a less expensive PC." Clearly its refers to the Mac. Might the rule you cite work for the GMAT? That's largely an empirical question, and once I haven't investigated. It doesn't work for the sentence we're all concerned about in this thread, though I gather that this is not an actual GMAT SC.

Your next claim, ChrisLele, is not quite right even for the GMAT. You write, "In this case, the participle phrase is modifying the noun 'the engineering squad', which is singular." In fact, if a sentence begins with a participial phrase followed by a comma, the participial phrase does not modify the noun that follows. It usually modifies the entire subsequent clause by attributing action to the subject of that clause, the very noun following the comma. If we're trying to decide whether a participial is well-placed, this distinction between noun modifier and adverbial modifier is unimportant: the modifier has to touch the noun it modifies or the noun to which it attributes action. If we're concerned about meaning, though, there may be a real difference between using a participial phrase to modify a noun and using a participial phrase to modify a clause. Consider these two sentences:

(1) The man standing behind Alex played bass for Big Star.
(2) Standing behind Alex, the man played bass for Big Star.

In (1), the participial phrase standing behind Alex modifies the man. The man is standing behind Alex as the sentence is uttered. In (2), the participial phrase standing behind Alex modifies the entire clause, and tells us how the man played bass for Big Star.

(edited to answer smartyman 's question)

smartyman asks a very interesting question: Does the use of the past participle had been mean that it was no longer a problem by the time the funding was requested? No. The past participle can be used EITHER for an earlier past action/event that is complete before the later past action/event OR for an earlier past action/event that is still ongoing (or whose effects are still ongoing) at the time of the later past action/event.

, suggests that Juan still suffered migraines when he asked his doctor. You could also use a funny construction, had been+continuous verb, to communicate the same idea, Juan had been sufering migraines for years before he asked his doctor about them. I find the latter sentence awkward, and it really doesn't work with the continuous verb being. The problem had been being...? That's awful.
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Last edited by MichaelS on 12 Jun 2013, 20:20, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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24 Apr 2012, 14:29
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We need to find the pronoun referent for its/their. That is, what noun refers to its/their. When we have a participle phrase (as we do here, beginning with 'reporting...'), the its/their must refer to the noun that comes immediately after the comma. In this case, the participle phrase is modifying the noun 'the engineering squad', which is singular.

Therefore, we want its not their. Eliminate (A) and (B).

BTW: 'Maintenance systems' is a direct object and therefore is not the subject of the sentence, which is squad.

The sentence is in past tense as the non-underlined part contains the verb, 'requested.' Eliminate (C).

Finally, we want an adjective to modifying the noun 'failure.' Therefore we want 'sudden.' Suddenly is an adverb so we can eliminate (E). That leaves us with the answer (D).

Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

a) their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden
b) their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly
c) its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden
d) its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden
e) its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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24 Apr 2012, 17:46
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@ChrisLele
isnt more crippling mafunctions modifing Large hadron collider rather than engineering squad. Removing prounoun altogether lets see the sentence
i)Reporting that one of the Large Hadron Collider's more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

ii)Reporting that one of the engineering squad's more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

I think i) makes more sense
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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01 May 2012, 10:33
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the two events are related and hence we need a perfect tense to show which happened earlier.

option D
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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22 May 2012, 23:00
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Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

a) their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden
b) their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly
c) its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden
d) its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden
e) its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly

The meaning of the sentence is,

1. The engineering squad requested for money.
2. Some kinds of malfunctions were reported by the engineering squad.

Now, a easier split is sudden & suddenly(adverb). Sudden(adjective) has to be right because it is modifying failure, a noun. B, E are gone.

The second split is their & its.
I can't explain too well, but I think the antecedent should refer to the one closest or the one making the most sense.

Even if you still are confused about their & its split, there is had / has been split. 'Had been' conveys the meaning better because the system was malfunctioned at some point and the squad requested for money.

D wins.

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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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10 Apr 2012, 22:37
"Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system" should modify engineering squad. So usage of their is wrong and only its can be used.
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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10 Apr 2012, 22:43
ENAFEX wrote:
"Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system" should modify engineering squad. So usage of their is wrong and only its can be used.

Ummm.. no denying to that but...reporting blaah-2 should be modified by someone who reported ... I was trying to get the meaning of the sentence- now let us consider this:

a) Reporting that one of squads more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected....
b) Reporting that one of systems more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected...

Now tell me which one sounds better ( or am I reading too much into this ?? )
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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11 Apr 2012, 01:42
OA is D.
It is the collider that has crippling malfunction issues not the squad
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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15 Apr 2012, 00:09
Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.
a. Their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden – (the engineering squad is singular – ‘Its’ usage should be correct.)
b. Their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly - (the engineering squad is singular – ‘Its’ usage should be correct & ‘suddenly’ is not parallel to failure)
c. its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden – ‘is’ tense error
d. its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden – Shouldn’t the tense be has been instead of had been because the issue
e. its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly - (‘suddenly’ is not parallel to failure)

Question: Shouldn’t the tense be ‘has been’ instead of ‘had been’ because the issue was not over is why the engineering squad requested. Any thoughts???
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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15 Apr 2012, 05:04
kishore0912 wrote:
Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.
a. Their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden – (the engineering squad is singular – ‘Its’ usage should be correct.)
b. Their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly - (the engineering squad is singular – ‘Its’ usage should be correct & ‘suddenly’ is not parallel to failure)
c. its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden – ‘is’ tense error
d. its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden – Shouldn’t the tense be has been instead of had been because the issue
e. its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly - (‘suddenly’ is not parallel to failure)

Question: Shouldn’t the tense be ‘has been’ instead of ‘had been’ because the issue was not over is why the engineering squad requested. Any thoughts???

Past perfect tense: Something happened before something else in the past.
"had been" is correct as the failure existed before the team requested funding.
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19 Apr 2012, 14:52
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24 Apr 2012, 09:56
Had been is correct because their is a reference to the past ....
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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26 Apr 2012, 05:05
Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

a) their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden
b) their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly
c) its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden
d) its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden
e) its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly

Ans Exp:-

First we should identify the subject, as the sentence is starting with gerund the ,subject starts after first sentence ie the engineering squad and as the squad is singular we can eliminate a and b which states as their ,so we are left with c,d and e. we can eliminate c because c is making tense error as it is using present tense is so eliminate this on this basis ,then coming to e as the sudden should modify the failure which is noun so it must be sudden not suddenly so eliminate e on this basis and finally we are left with d which must be our answer as the sentence should be in past perfect continuous tense so we should use had been and not has been which represents present perfect continuous tense . so answer option is d.
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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10 May 2012, 07:18
ChrisLele wrote:
We need to find the pronoun referent for its/their. That is, what noun refers to its/their. When we have a participle phrase (as we do here, beginning with 'reporting...'), the its/their must refer to the noun that comes immediately after the comma. In this case, the participle phrase is modifying the noun 'the engineering squad', which is singular.

Therefore, we want its not their. Eliminate (A) and (B).

BTW: 'Maintenance systems' is a direct object and therefore is not the subject of the sentence, which is squad.

The sentence is in past tense as the non-underlined part contains the verb, 'requested.' Eliminate (C).

Finally, we want an adjective to modifying the noun 'failure.' Therefore we want 'sudden.' Suddenly is an adverb so we can eliminate (E). That leaves us with the answer (D).

Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

a) their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden
b) their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly
c) its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden
d) its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden
e) its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly

How can the engineering squad has more crippling functions. It has to be the liquid helium cooling systems.
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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22 May 2012, 21:42
[quote="yogesh1984"]Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

a) their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden
b) their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly
c) its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden
d) its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden
e) its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly

the answer choice would be first divided based on the selection of either ITS or THEIRS...here we are talking about the LARGE HADRON COLLIDER, it should be ITS as the COLLIDER is a singular term.

hence B & C are knocked off...

now with do we need SUDDEN or SUDDENLY ...we need SUDDEN as SUDDENLY and UNEXPECTED FAILURE Is awkward...

hence the options are either C or D

i went with C, but after re-looking into the sentence, we should have used PAST tense here instead of present tense as used in C...

Hence i was wrong and D is the correct answer..
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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23 May 2012, 09:23
The splits are easy and clear to lead us unto the right answer swiftly. However, the meaning in this passage is somewhat important in the context of its current priority and there is sly pitfall built in it. What does really the pronoun their or its stand for? It cannot be the maintenance systems because; the maintenance systems are not reported to be defunct. So, their is out.

The passage makes it very clear that the cooling system is totally malfunctioning because it has completely stopped. So the more crippling malfunction is the stoppage rather than the cooling system. It also makes sense to think that the supervision squad cannot be referred here since it cannot have such crippling problems.
This leads us to derive that the collider has several problems and among them, the failure of the cooling system is one of the more crippling ones. So logically and reasonably its should refer to the collider rather than any other, be it the singular system or the squad or the plural maintenance systems
Meaning is a tricky pitch; it can skid people easily
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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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30 May 2012, 05:10
egmat wrote:
Hi All,

Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

In order to ascertain the antecedent for “their”, it is imperative to understand the logical meaning of the sentence. The engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems. Why did they make this request? They did so because they reported a crippling malfunction. What is this crippling malfunction? This crippling malfunction is the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system. So what is malfunctioning? The liquid helium cooling system is malfunctioning.

Since “system” is in singular, plural “their” must be changed into singular “its” so that the pronoun can agree in number with its antecedent. Also, the squad “requested” additional funds. This means that this action of requesting took place in the past. This means that malfunction took place even before that. Hence use of present perfect tense “has been” is incorrect.

POE

Choice A: Incorrect for reasons mentioned above.

Choice B: their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly. Incorrect. This choice repeats all the errors of choice A. In addition, it uses adverb “suddenly” to refer to noun “failure”.

Choice C: its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden. Incorrect. Use of simple present tense “is” is not correct.

Choice D: its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden. Correct. This choice corrects both the errors present in the original sentence.

Choice E: its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly. Incorrect. Use of adverb “suddenly” to refer to noun “failure” is incorrect.

1. Pronouns must agree in number with their noun antecedents.
2. Adverbs can only refer to verbs.
3. Use correct verb tense to convey the logical meaning of the sentence.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions... [#permalink]

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30 May 2012, 21:25
Good point.... especially about the reference to 'their'

egmat wrote:
Hi All,

Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system, the engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems.

In order to ascertain the antecedent for “their”, it is imperative to understand the logical meaning of the sentence. The engineering squad supervising the Large Hadron Collider requested additional funding to develop better maintenance systems. Why did they make this request? They did so because they reported a crippling malfunction. What is this crippling malfunction? This crippling malfunction is the sudden and unexpected failure of the liquid helium cooling system. So what is malfunctioning? The liquid helium cooling system is malfunctioning.

Since “system” is in singular, plural “their” must be changed into singular “its” so that the pronoun can agree in number with its antecedent. Also, the squad “requested” additional funds. This means that this action of requesting took place in the past. This means that malfunction took place even before that. Hence use of present perfect tense “has been” is incorrect.

POE

Choice A: Incorrect for reasons mentioned above.

Choice B: their more crippling malfunctions has been the suddenly. Incorrect. This choice repeats all the errors of choice A. In addition, it uses adverb “suddenly” to refer to noun “failure”.

Choice C: its more crippling malfunctions is the sudden. Incorrect. Use of simple present tense “is” is not correct.

Choice D: its more crippling malfunctions had been the sudden. Correct. This choice corrects both the errors present in the original sentence.

Choice E: its more crippling malfunctions had been the suddenly. Incorrect. Use of adverb “suddenly” to refer to noun “failure” is incorrect.

1. Pronouns must agree in number with their noun antecedents.
2. Adverbs can only refer to verbs.
3. Use correct verb tense to convey the logical meaning of the sentence.

Hope this helps.

Thanks.

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Re: Reporting that one of their more cripplng malfunctions...   [#permalink] 30 May 2012, 21:25

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