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Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the

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

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New post 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


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 (use to justify use of its) so if option A were- A- their more crippling malfunctions has had been the sudden, would it become better choice than OA ?

any thoughts ?

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Re: Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the  [#permalink]

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New post 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 crippling malfunctions has been the  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 12 Jun 2013, 20:20
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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.

Juan had suffered migraines for years before he asked his doctor about them
, 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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Originally posted by MichaelS on 30 May 2012, 23:09.
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 crippling malfunctions has been the  [#permalink]

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New post 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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.
Shraddha
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Re: Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the  [#permalink]

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New post 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 crippling malfunctions has been the  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jun 2012, 03:51
I am confused as had been means the problem is no longer present, so why request for funding? Please help to explain. Thanks.
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Re: Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jun 2012, 08:16
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.

Juan had suffered migraines for years before he asked his doctor about them
, 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 suffering 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.

(I'm going to add this to the end of my answer above, since that answer is further up and more visible. Sorry for the repeat. I'll remove this quick reply later, but I want smartyman to see that there's been a reply.)
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Re: Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2018, 03:13
yogesh1984 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

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


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 (use to justify use of its) so if option A were- A- their more crippling malfunctions has had been the sudden, would it become better choice than OA ?

any thoughts ?


KNEWTON OFFICIAL EXPLANATION:



The antecedent for the plural pronoun their is the singular the engineering squad, so this sentence displays a pronoun-antecedent agreement error. A pronoun can come before its antecedent if the pronoun is inside of a describing phrase set off by a comma at the beginning of the sentence; the noun described by the phrase and the antecedent for the pronoun must be the first noun after the comma. Collective nouns, like squad, which refer to a group that acts as a unit, are singular. The pronoun their is incorrect here.

Additionally, the verb tenses used in the sentence as it is written create an illogical sequence of events; in the past, the squad requested additional funding, so what prompted this request must have been an event that took place before before the request was made. However, a malfunction that has been the failure... uses the present perfect (has + participle), which describes an event that began in the past and may continue. An event that may continue does not describe something that came before another event that began and ended in the past.

Choice D changes their to its and has been to had been, fixing both errors. The singular it correctly refers to the singular collective noun engineering squad. The past perfect (had + participle) is always used to describe an event in the far past that came before an event that took place before another event in the more recent past. Before the team requested additional funding..., a crippling malfunction had been the failure.

Choice B retains the plural their and the incorrect has been..., failing to fix either error.

Choice C changes their to its but retains a verb tense error. The present is does not describe an action that took place before the request was made.

Choice E fixes both original errors but changes the adjective sudden to the incorrectly used adverb, suddenly. Adverbs cannot modify nouns; the failure, a noun, must be described as sudden and unexpected.

The correct answer is D.
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Re: Reporting that one of their more crippling malfunctions has been the &nbs [#permalink] 17 Aug 2018, 03:13
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