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Re: William Butler Yeats' stirring poem Meditations in Time of Civil War w [#permalink]
homersimpsons wrote:

Official Explanation



As we often see in GMAT sentence correction, we have a long descriptive phrase to ignore. We should read the sentence to ourselves as:

William Butler Yeats' stirring poem ...allows for a large number of interpretations of individual word choice but little debate over his overall meaning .


Now that the extraneous material is gone, it's easier to analyze the sentence. The original sounds pretty good, so let's scan the choices looking for differences.

The first thing we likely see is "number" vs "amount". We use number for countables and amounts for non-countables. Can you count "interpretations"? Sure - you could have 1, 2, 3 4 or 500 interpretations. Since interpretations are countable, we need "number": eliminate C, D and E.

Now we scan A and B for a difference and we note "little" vs "less". Do little and less mean the same thing? No - little is simply a quantifier and less implies a comparison. Are we comparing the amount of debate about Yeats' meaning to some other amount of debate? Nope - therefore "less" changes the meaning of the sentence to something nonsensical and we can eliminate B.

Our original instincts prove correct - choose A!

As a small aside, even if you just notice that "less" changes the meaning of the sentence, that's good reason to choose A over B. The correct answer to a SC question will always reflect the author's intended meaning and the original sentence is our best guide to the author's intentions.


Thanks, very good explanation to differentiate little and less.
Also plurals are always countable irrespective of whether their singular form is count or non-count.
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Re: William Butler Yeats' stirring poem Meditations in Time of Civil War w [#permalink]
homersimpsons wrote:
William Butler Yeats' stirring poem Meditations in Time of Civil War which uses imagery first depicting Ireland's overall struggle and then the poet’s personal experiences, allows for a large number of interpretations of individual word choice but little debate over his overall meaning .

(A )a large number of interpretations of individual word choice but little debate over his overall meaning
(B) a large number of interpretations of individual word choice but less debate over his overall meaning
(C) a large amount of interpretations of individual word choice but little debate over his overall meaning
(D) a large amount of interpretations of individual word choice but less debate over his overall meaning
(E) large amounts of interpretations of individual word choice but little debates over his overall meaning


Number is used for Countable things & Amount is used for uncountable things,(Reject options C, D & E)

Little refers to non-countable nouns (Reject options B), Hence correct Answer must be (A)
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Re: William Butler Yeats' stirring poem Meditations in Time of Civil War w [#permalink]
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homersimpsons wrote:
William Butler Yeats' stirring poem Meditations in Time of Civil War which uses imagery first depicting Ireland's overall struggle and then the poet’s personal experiences, allows for a large number of interpretations of individual word choice but little debate over his overall meaning .

(A )a large number of interpretations of individual word choice but little debate over his overall meaning
(B) a large number of interpretations of individual word choice but less debate over his overall meaning
(C) a large amount of interpretations of individual word choice but little debate over his overall meaning
(D) a large amount of interpretations of individual word choice but less debate over his overall meaning
(E) large amounts of interpretations of individual word choice but little debates over his overall meaning


Hello everyone,

We hope this finds you well.

To provide a bit of clarity regarding the issue of countable and uncountable nouns in this sentence; there are some nouns that can be countable or uncountable in their singular forms, depending on the context. Typically, the countable version can be identified through the presence of an article.

For example,

"This is stone."; in this context, "stone" is a material noun, a noun that conceptually refers to a substance; such nouns are always uncountable; what this sentence means is that whatever "This" refers to is made of stone.

"This is a stone."; in this context, as indicated by the use of the article "a", "stone" refers to a literal piece of stone, and is thus countable, albeit its count is just one.

Of course, all plural nouns are countable; in the case of material nouns, their plural forms are typically used to refer to different types of the nouns.

For example, "The carpenter has many different woods in his shop."; here "woods" refers to different varieties of wood, such as wood from different trees.

We hope this helps.
All the best!
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Re: William Butler Yeats' stirring poem Meditations in Time of Civil War w [#permalink]
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