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# Sentence Correction

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Intern
Joined: 11 Nov 2017
Posts: 1

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11 Nov 2017, 02:04
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Hi,

What role does the word 'which' following the preposition 'to' plays in the following sentence:

The tidal forces to which an object falling into a black hole is submitted are sufficient to tear the object apart
Magoosh GMAT Instructor
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
Posts: 4489

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11 Nov 2017, 13:22
Hi,

What role does the word 'which' following the preposition 'to' plays in the following sentence:

The tidal forces to which an object falling into a black hole is submitted are sufficient to tear the object apart

I'm happy to respond.

The word "which" is a pronoun. Technically, it is a relative pronoun. Its job is to open a subordinate clause, a noun-modifying clause. The pronoun "which" always refers to the target noun that the clause is modifying.

First, let's look at that sentence without the noun-modifying clause at all.
(1) The tidal forces are sufficient to tear the object apart.
That's 100% grammatically correct, but it leaves us a little in the dark. Which tidal forces? We are missing some context.

We could turn the noun modifying clause into its own sentence, and then follow it with a sentence similar to (1).
(2) An object falling into a black hole is submitted to tidal forces.
(3) These tidal forces are sufficient to tear the object apart.
Again, all this is 100% grammatically correct. It now provides context and tells a story. The problem is that these two sentences have a cookbook simplicity to it, as if this were appearing in a child's report on black holes. It is artlessly factual, the way children write.

It would be far more elegant to combine these into a single sentence. In this combined sentence, (1) will be the independent clause, and the information in (2) will be used in an noun-modifying clause. The target noun of this clause will the subject of (1), "tidal forces." Since this noun is the object of the preposition "to" in setnence (2), the relatively pronoun will have to take on this same role. Thus, the noun modifying clause will begin with the structure "to which."
(4) The tidal forces to which an object falling into a black hole is submitted are sufficient to tear the object apart.
That is a high quality sentence and could be the correct answer on a GMAT SC question.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
_________________

Mike McGarry
Magoosh Test Prep

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. — William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

Re: Sentence Correction &nbs [#permalink] 11 Nov 2017, 13:22
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