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# While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate

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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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12 Jun 2019, 22:57
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Question Stats:

53% (00:58) correct 47% (00:55) wrong based on 226 sessions

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Project SC Butler: Day 124: Sentence Correction (SC2)

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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

A) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

B) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

C) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did not succeed in one's attempts

D) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

E) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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12 Jun 2019, 22:58
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OFFICIAL EXPLANATION

Highlights

• Neither/nor
Without exception, if neither is paired in a conjunction (if neither . .. + other word joins two items) the other word must be nor.
Correct: Neither X nor Y
Wrong: Neither X or Y

• Pronouns? Determined by the antecedent closer to the pronoun

When subjects are joined by or or nor, the pronoun follows the antecedent closer to the pronoun.

In other words, to decide whether to use his attempts or their attempts, look at the noun after the nor because it's closer to the pronoun.
Ignore everything before the nor.
The noun is Richard Nixon, singular.

Singular noun? Singular pronoun: his attempts.
The rule parallels the rule for verbs in this construction.

Scroll down a little on this page from
this excellent source, here.
You will see a short section on neither/nor and pronouns.

OPTIONS

While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

A) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts
• We need neither/NOR and HIS (see B)

B) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts
• the pronoun must agree with the antecedent closer to the pronoun.
We need HIS in order to match the singular person Nixon

C) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did not succeed in one's attempts
• Seriously? "One" is a generic pronoun (used to refer to Everyperson), and one's is the possessive form of that pronoun. We need HIS.

D) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts
• we need NOR

E) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts[/quote]
• Bingo.

COMMENTS

Arvind42 , Mo2men , nigina93 welcome to SC Butler. [Mo2men :I really don't know how the writers do their jobs; writing these sentences is SO hard. I would be happily editing the prose repeatedly and the team would be unhappily tolerating me.]

This question is interesting.
Not surprisingly, the split is between B and E.
One reason that many people do not know the rule for pronouns and neither/nor antecedents stems from writers' and editors' avoidance:
we do not usually keep neither/nor and a pronoun in the same sentence.
Typically we rewrite the sentence.

Sometimes, though, neither/nor is a really good emphatic structure (it really emphasizes not THIS one OR THAT one -- not either!) and we cannot avoid a pronoun. In that case, choose the noun closer to the pronoun.

Nice analysis, all. Everyone, happy kudos!
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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 17 Jun 2019, 01:37
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[quote="generis"]

Project SC Butler: Day 124: Sentence Correction (SC2)

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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

A) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

B) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

C) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did not succeed in one's attempts - as if they both had just one attempt, which is nonsense

D)neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

E) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts - correct usage of idiom. When compounded antecedents are connected by "or" or "nor" ( or by "either..or" or "neither..nor"), make the pronoun agree with the nearer antecedent

Given all marked parts above, answer should be E, as per me.
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Originally posted by nigina93 on 13 Jun 2019, 00:49.
Last edited by nigina93 on 17 Jun 2019, 01:37, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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13 Jun 2019, 00:59
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My answer is E. It took me 1 minute and 11 seconds.
> Should be: Neither ... nor ... (instead of Neither... or....)
> Now, with neither... nor..., the verb must match up with the noun that is closest to it. It follows that the pronoun should follow the same rule.

Issue with A: Neither ... or ... can never be correct.
Issue with B: "Their" should be "his".
Issue with C: Subject "Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon" is plural, so "one's attempts" should be "their attempts".
Issue with D: Neither ... or ... can never be correct.
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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13 Jun 2019, 04:18
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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

A) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

B) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

C) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did not succeed in one's attempts

D) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

E) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

A & D) are wrong because of wrong connector structure, neither X nor Y is correct one.
B & C) is wrong due to wrong pronoun reference.
E) is correct as pronoun his agrees with the closest noun in the connector, his modifies correctly to Richard Nixon.
Imo E.

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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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13 Jun 2019, 05:27
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Answer would be E.

For neither - nor formation the pronoun and verb should agree with the noun after 'nor'.

While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

A) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts ---- pronoun doesn't agree

B) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts ---- pronoun doesn't agree

C) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did not succeed in one's attempts ---- pronoun doesn't agree

D) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts --- should be neither....nor....

E) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts ----- pronoun 'his' agrees with Richard Nixon
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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13 Jun 2019, 08:27
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generis wrote:

Project SC Butler: Day 124: Sentence Correction (SC2)

For SC butler Questions Click Here

While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

A) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

B) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

C) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did not succeed in one's attempts

D) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

E) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

Option E. The correct structure is "Neither .... nor" So A,D is eliminated, C and A is wrong due to pronoun usage "one's" and "their". While using nor/or the pronoun must agree to its nearest antecedent i.e. Nixon. So Option E
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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13 Jun 2019, 09:04
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generis wrote:

Project SC Butler: Day 124: Sentence Correction (SC2)

For SC butler Questions Click Here

While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

A) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

B) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts

C) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did not succeed in one's attempts

D) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

E) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts

Another high quality question generis

When wil you join GMAC? Thanks for your effort

Split: Neither........nor is idiomatic construction.

Eliminate choices A & D

We should use the correct singular reflexive pronoun when use (neither...nor). 'their' is incorrect.

Eliminate choices B

In choice C, there is 2 issues:

1- 'Johnson and Nixon' do jot agree with 'one'.

2- The meaning of the sentence gives the impression that they do it collectively, while the meaning is every single individual of them has his own attempt.

Eliminate choice C

Answer: E
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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13 Jun 2019, 11:48
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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

Intended meaning :
While A succeeded in doing X , neither B nor C succeeded in his attempt .

Error Analysis:

A) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts - Wrong
Correct Idiom is Neither - nor and in this idiom the pronoun should always agree with the antecedent before it .
ie., after the nor if antecedent is singular precedent should be singular.

B) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts-wrong
their should be his , as "Richard Nixon succeeded" is singular --> his attempts is expected.

C) Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did not succeed in one's attempts - wrong
since and is used a plural their is expected.

D) neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts -Wrong
Idiom error , it should be neither -nor

E) neither Lyndon Johnson nor Richard Nixon succeeded in his attempts-Correct
Correct idiom used and correct precedent used
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13 Jun 2019, 18:14
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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate the media to propagandize earlier conflicts and wars, neither Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon succeeded in their attempts to spin the media during the Vietnam war.

Meaning analysis--> Earlier presidents were successful to propagandize the media but neither LJ nor RN could do it.
See, here are two events in the past and one took place before the other so use to past perfect for the first is correct and the second event should use simple past.

Idiom used-->Neither nor
Pronoun agreement error--> Since we using neither nor the pronoun should refer either to LJ or to RJ. But we know their is plural and so the usage of 'his' is correct here.

IMHO E
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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14 Jun 2019, 17:37
I posted the official explanation here
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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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14 Jun 2019, 18:51
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Hi generis

I have a small query regarding pronoun ambiguity.
Should not a pronoun refer to one noun?

In your PoE analysis of (B) you wrote:
Quote:
We need HIS in order to match the singular person Nixon

True, but then in meaning analysis you also mentioned that:

Quote:
Both the verb and pronoun should be singular even though we are talking about two people.

Usually verb takes the plural form when we talk about action of two people, but how can
a singular pronoun refer back to two different people?

Quote:
Lyndon Johnson did not succeed in his attempts to spin the media.
Richard Nixon did not succeed in his attempts to spin the media.

So both LJ and RN failed to spin the media. How can a possessive pronoun
his only refer to RN and not NJ. It is a bit frustrating to see what I missed here.
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14 Jun 2019, 19:03
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adkikani wrote:
Hi generis

I have a small query regarding pronoun ambiguity.
Should not a pronoun refer to one noun?

It is a bit frustrating to see what I missed here.

adkikani , +1. You're not missing anything. I forgot to delete that material from my draft. I'll delete it.

I decided NOT to go into the logic of "neither = not either."
I decided NOT to discuss how, when we deal with either/or we should think of two singular subjects as not compound but rather as alternate, and how that stance might help with neither/nor . . . I realized that it was easier and more merciful simply to say that the noun closer to the pronoun determines what the pronoun should be.
P.S. adkikani , please take a quick look at the source to which I linked. (Scroll down. You will see a short section on neither/nor.)
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While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 17 Jun 2019, 19:19
adkikani wrote:
Hi generis

I have a small query regarding pronoun ambiguity.
Should not a pronoun refer to one noun?

In your PoE analysis of (B) you wrote:
Quote:
We need HIS in order to match the singular person Nixon

True, but then in meaning analysis you also mentioned that:

Quote:
Both the verb and pronoun should be singular even though we are talking about two people.

Usually verb takes the plural form when we talk about action of two people, but how can
a singular pronoun refer back to two different people?

Quote:
Lyndon Johnson did not succeed in his attempts to spin the media.
Richard Nixon did not succeed in his attempts to spin the media.

So both LJ and RN failed to spin the media. How can a possessive pronoun
his only refer to RN and not NJ. It is a bit frustrating to see what I missed here.

My 2 cents on this mate !!

As generis wrote, in such questions 2 things are important.

1. It is always 'Either A or B' or 'Neither A nor B'
2. Now the noun closer to nor/or will tell us whether to use singular form of verb or plural form of verb.

Based on these 2 points you see E is the answer.

Don't get confused by anything else. This is a standard approach to solve such questions.

P.S -- In case we have 2 options complying with above 2 points, we can look for other errors.
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Originally posted by warrior1991 on 14 Jun 2019, 20:05.
Last edited by warrior1991 on 17 Jun 2019, 19:19, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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17 Jun 2019, 02:49
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Hi warrior1991,

Quote:
2. Now the noun after nor/or will tell us whether to use singular form of verb or plural form of verb.

Please, let me clarify the above part of your explanation. Do you mean that part is always true for all cases or only in this particular question?
As generis explained to adkikani , the noun closer to the pronoun (verb) determines what the pronoun (verb) should be. That means the verb may not always stay after nor/or. The below sentences are correct as per GMATNinja:

There are few services or little available water.

There is little available water or few services.

In both cases the verb is closer to the first noun, not to the noun after or. As per MGMAT SC guide, this is also true for the constructions either… or, nor, and neither… nor.

Let me know your thoughts.
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate  [#permalink]

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17 Jun 2019, 19:20
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JonShukhrat wrote:
Hi warrior1991,

Quote:
2. Now the noun after nor/or will tell us whether to use singular form of verb or plural form of verb.

Please, let me clarify the above part of your explanation. Do you mean that part is always true for all cases or only in this particular question?
As generis explained to adkikani , the noun closer to the pronoun (verb) determines what the pronoun (verb) should be. That means the verb may not always stay after nor/or. The below sentences are correct as per GMATNinja:

There are few services or little available water.

There is little available water or few services.

In both cases the verb is closer to the first noun, not to the noun after or. As per MGMAT SC guide, this is also true for the constructions either… or, nor, and neither… nor.

Let me know your thoughts.

Yes, it should be closer. I wrote after which is not always the case. Have corrected it. Thank you for pointing out.
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Re: While previous United States Presidents had been able to manipulate   [#permalink] 17 Jun 2019, 19:20
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